Increase Creativity to Relieve Time Management Stress in Analytical Jobs

Photo copyright by Aislinn Bailey, Ais Portraits, Niceville, Florida; used with permission.

Shannon is on the verge of 20, a college senior in Psychology, and stressed to the max.  She carries a heavy course load, works 20 hours a week in a counseling clinic, and is focusing on complicated research projects in sociology and psychology while preparing her grad school admissions packages.  So how to combat the stress?

With creativity.  That’s right–doing even more in the time-restricted schedule.

To some people, that’s odd, but not to people with creativity in their bones. It’s not uncommon for a creative person to be chastised for complaining that they’re too busy, that they have no time to get things done, but in a spare moment (or not so spare), there they are–knitting, painting, writing, beading, taking pictures, sketching….

“If you don’t have time to clean your room, how can you waste time doing something artsy?” becomes the question.  From someone who doesn’t get it, obviously.

Creative people like to stay busy, but staying busy with the analytical and logical tasks of their professions can be draining.  The stress relief isn’t from vegging in front of the TV for a spare 3 hours but from engaging the creative side of the brain.  I know several physicians who work 15 hours a day in emergency rooms, and then skimp on dinner so they’ll have enough time to indulge their musical genius in the evenings.  They don’t have to be rock stars at night–just unleash  their less analytical passions.

For Shannon, that’s either her knitting/crocheting or making jewelry.  She and I learned to bead several years ago, and now she specializes in unusual belly button rings and jewelry.  She loves the creative burst of energy from designing and making her own jewelry, and she makes a nice profit if she chooses to sell it rather than keep it for herself.

I can already see this need to balance the left and right brains in her younger sister who, after a busy day of college classes and forensics, can’t wait to spend a few hours in an uber creative photo shoot, followed by laborious CS4 editing to get the right vintage  or Hollywood look.

For me,  writing has always been a great de-stressing tool.  I used to joke about it–I’ve learned with so much workplace violence to be more careful about my offbeat sense of humor–but I would come home from a grueling 12 to 15-hour day of dealing with lieutenants, slimy defense contractors, idiot Federal employees, and Gutless Wonder bosses and…beat them up or kill them off in my fiction, which at the time was my End Times thriller, Access.  I was rather powerless at work to fight back, so I unleashed it in my suspense novels and had a blast.  I’ve taken my creativity in other directions, too–sewing, beading, photography–that I’m feeling called to re-explore.

But no matter how little time I have left in a day that’s full of high-stress analysis or possibly life-or-death situations, if I don’t make time for at least a few minutes of creative bursts, I cannot maintain balance or happiness in my life.

So go ahead:  try it.  Find something artistic to do to balance the daily logic, even if you feel you’re no good at it or can’t make any money from it.  Do it for the passion of it.


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