With our current COVID-19 situation and the rise of unrest in many parts of the world, it seems a good time to address our psychological maladies. History has it that human beings started as a hunter-gatherer species, often having confined ourselves within four walls. But since Winter/Spring of 2020 most of us have spent a lot of time in quarantine, and this has started to give rise to states of depression in our American society and elsewhere on the planet.
Causes of Depression
According to Reuters, with every point rise in unemployment there is a 1% increase in suicide cases. And as the studies done by MedicalExpress in 26 European countries over four decades suggest, increases in unemployment of more than 3% are associated with increases in suicides by 4.45%.
The people at UC Santa Cruz say that suicide often comes from mental illness, most commonly depression. Suicide is known to be the 2nd leading cause of death in young people. And the depression that triggers suicide, at any age, is difficult to treat because having it often prevents a person from seeking treatment. What’s interesting is that the cause of depression is not singular. Known causes include psychological and social factors, as well as biological.
Help with Depression – what can we do?
So what is the solution? How do we approach depression in a time when we have become so socially isolated, when we have been cloistered in our homes, staring at our walls, or computers, or T.V. for months at a time?
One way we can help with depression is to avoid engaging in negative or apathetic thinking by keeping our minds engaged in a creative activity. Being forced into isolation can be a great opportunity to pick up an old creative interest and explore it further – or even start with a new medium you’ve been wanting to learn. So whatever it is: guitar, piano, drawing, sculpting, or dance – if it’s a creative activity it has the potential to boost your immune system and simply make you a happier, healthier person.
Creativity Supports a Stronger Immune System
Science is still debating what you should eat and what to avoid to save yourself from a COVID-19 infection. But science generally agrees that doing creative tasks like writing increases the CD4+ lymphocyte in your system which leads to improved immunity of the body to fight against bacteria and viruses.
Creativity Brings Happiness
You may have heard of the famous Japanese philosophy, IKAGAI: to lead a happy and long life, the Japanese follow the principle of flow. Whenever you perform some creative task, it slows down your heart rate, reduces your stress and anxiety levels, and brings happiness – thus preventing depression.
Creativity Makes Us Smarter
It’s well-known in scientific communities that people who indulge in creative activity, especially those who play musical instruments, have better left-right brain coordination. The better the coordination between both hemispheres of the brain, the better our cognitive responses, and the smarter we become.
More On Depression and the Creative Flow State
Speaking from personal experience on the subject of depression – many years ago I was diagnosed with having clinical depression. Over the years I discovered that my body, being toxic, was part of the problem. Since I have cleaned out my body doing fasting and cleanses, I’ve been much less susceptible to depression symptoms. Also for the last 20 years I’ve kept up an almost daily meditation practice in addition to having a daily creative practice, both of which have a huge impact on my state of mind, and on my health and general state of being.
Now, as a creative coach and creativity workshop instructor – and also as a visual and musical artist – I’ve noticed how the flow state bleeds into the rest of my life. When I spend at least an hour a day doing creative work of some kind, the rest of my day goes so much better than when I don’t do it. It affects everything, I mean everything, in my life, in such a positive way. I rarely spend a day without playing music or doing design work, or painting.
Keeping Up a Daily Creative Practice
If you are creatively inclined and you’re not already doing so, one the best things you can do to help with depression is to have some kind of daily, exploratory creative practice. It will help you in ways that you cannot imagine. And if you have problems with any specific kind of depression – general sadness, grief, obsessive worry, or hopelessness – I suspect it will either alleviate your symptoms, or eradicate them entirely. To get started, you could sign up for online creativity workshops or take a course in a local art academy, or find a mentor who will help.
Also see my upcoming courses and creativity workshops on Transforming Resistance, Fear, and Anxiety for instruction on how to use the creative process to transform fear, or any type of emotion.