Creativity and Flow State in Healthcare

This was a post from our weekly discussion board in Creativity and Health course from UF Arts in Medicine Graduate program.

This weeks’ discussion on the experience of flow and the relaxation response is actually something I personally know from experience. I experience flow almost every time I paint and I think it is what keeps me working my craft after all these years. It has taken me years to get to this point of being able to let go and find the flow and nurture it. I have had moments of watching my brush pick colors and make shapes that I did not know was possible, like being out of body but the opposite, I think it’s like being very much in my body. I try to approach painting with a sense of play and that I can always fix anything I don’t like and in keeping the momentum going, I will find the thing I am searching for. I know that when I am painting in flow, I am at my happiest, most authentic, empowered form of myself. I know that it keeps me sane and that it physically keeps me healthy.

From this weeks’ information I believe that everyone can achieve a state of flow and should try to create it daily as a form of self-care. I think there are ways that we express ourselves that is effortless and pleasurable that can achieve flow and should be encouraged as a way to release stress. Whether it’s a soccer or knitting, there are tasks that excite the mind and calm the soul.

From a healthcare stand point, teaching how to achieve flow to patients recovering could accelerate their healing process. Kelly McGonigal explains in her TED Talk “Make Stress Your Friend”, is to change the perspective of how you view stress. The anxiety prior to a surgery could be quelled by writing a love letter to your body thanking it for showing you that it’s ready take on surgery. Changing the inner monologue of our minds is a huge factor in reducing stress, boosting the immune system and bringing a sense of balance to one’s life .

I have been using affirmations to rewire how I feel about myself, money, love,  and family for years. I was very skeptical but as I put the teaching to work I did see that my thoughts changed, that I treated myself more gently than I ever had. I was saying kinder words to myself but truly I was being mindful of my thoughts and rewrote them if they did not serve me.

Society is becoming more aware of mindfulness from the boom of adult coloring books for meditation, apps on your phone for guided mediation, and even mindfulness doodling called Zentangles. I believe all of these forms of art can be used in the healthcare field as ways to encourage connection between caregivers, patients and staff, calming a patients mind prior to surgery or therapy, a way to rewire negative thoughts into positive thoughts, a form of prayer, a form of mediation for self-care.

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