Updated: Mar 1
(see earlier articles: Learning to Thrive as an HSP Part 1, Part 2, The Impact of Stress on the Highly Sensitive Person)
This is one of a series of blog posts about my experience working with Highly Sensitive People (HSP’s). In my naturopathic practice, I’ve noticed that HSP’s can be more susceptible to the ill effects of stress. I’ve also discovered that there are great ways to help an HSP build some resilience and, with a little extra effort towards self-care, learn to thrive. One way to accomplish this is to find a creative outlet to express your artistic side. Spending some time ‘being creative’ can benefit anyone looking to balance out both physical and mental stress. And for HSP’s it just makes sense. In fact, there may be an intrinsic link between sensitivity and creativity. The act of creating may be simply an attempt to process the overwhelming experience of a sensitive nervous system. As American author Pearl Buck stated:
“The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: a human creature born abnormally, inhumanely sensitive. To them … a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death.”
Falling Creativity Scores But I question whether many HSPs are given the opportunity to utilize their subtle perceptions to be creative. There are some disappointing societal trends at play. In the 1950s, a psychology professor by the name of E Paul Torrance designed and tested a set of creativity tasks for measuring creativity. His test became the gold standard in measuring creativity and has been used for over 50 years extensively. Between the 1950s and 1990, regular testing showed that gradually people’s creativity scores were increasing. But since then American creativity scores are actually falling — sadly, the scores are lowest in children from kindergarten to grade 6.
It’s too soon to accurately say why the creativity scores are falling. But we do know that this generation is spending more time in front of screens than ever before. They are also less engaged in creative activities like drawing and making crafts. And we have an education system that is allocating more funds to computers and technologies than to the arts.
Creativity and Sensitivity So with this strong link between creativity and sensitivity, and in the backdrop where art and creativity is de-emphasized you have many HSPs who have this wonderful innate talent that may not be expressed. I believe exploring this is key to achieving balance and holistic health for many HSPs.
Getting in Touch With Your Creative Side Personally, I found rediscovering my creative side to be fundamental to a renewed sense of well-being. In my 20s I was a (struggling) musician, until some life changes and new passions lead me to pursue Naturopathic Medicine. School and the new career left less room for musical pursuits and my interest in writing and playing music seemed to fade to the background.
Recently, I spent some time re-evaluating my priorities and noticed that creativity was the missing piece. I started exploring some visual arts – drawing and painting – and recently self-published a children’s book (with some encouragement and advice from friends who are more talented and experienced than I!).
WILLY AND MATHILDA’S HOUSEBOAT ADVENTURE By Michael Torreiter
There are of course many ways to nurture creativity. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron is a great book with ideas and exercises and has been a bestseller for 20 years. World Enough & Time by Christian McEwen is a similar book that I read and loved. Most communities have arts or music classes. In Waterloo, the Waterloo Community Arts Centre offers a variety of art classes.