Free as Art: Self-Care Through Creative Expression by Manon Lavoie

Here are 10 tips on how to take care of yourself through creation. You’ll find at the bottom of the article my suggestions of products to add to your creative survival kit.
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The desire to create often comes from the heart. We need to follow this feeling, even if it is only for ourselves, in silence. There is something that needs to be expressed using more than just words.

Travelling inwards using creative freedom as a tool—both a philosophy of life and a concrete way to rediscover and reconnect with oneself. It is about discovering who we are and choosing to be the artist of our own lives.

Creating with your hands teaches you to take a break, to take time for yourself and to live in the moment. Through introspection coupled with creation, one experiences calm, kindness and joy. One then becomes increasingly able to disregard perfectionism, comparison, doubt and fears that hinder progress. A gentle path that leads to the heart and allows us to find our inner resources.
Whether you are overwhelmed, think you do not have any creative talent, or do not necessarily have space at home to sit down and create, you have a place at the creative table.

Here are 10 tips on how to take care of yourself through creation. You’ll find at the bottom of the article my suggestions of products to add to your creative survival kit.

1- CULTIVATE THE BEGINNER’S MIND
Give yourself the freedom to create like a child, as if it were the first time. In doing so, you let go of any obligation to “do things right” or control results. This then allows you to explore more freely, without judgment, for the pleasure of exploring; to try new techniques and discover new ideas. Goodbye pressure!
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2- CREATE CALM THROUGH CREATIVITY
Pay attention to your breath and gently prolong it. Let your exhalation be longer than your inhalation. Then draw or paint, letting your hands create to the rhythm of your breath. Be present with this gentle and reassuring rhythm flowing through you. You are thus meditating with your hands. You can also do this while modelling clay, gardening, or any other form of creation.
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3- USE BEAUTIFUL QUESTIONS AS MANTRAS
When you feel stuck before or during creation, use the following exercise: mentally repeat this simple—but oh so powerful—question to help you get out of the rut: “What if? What if I tried this? What if I did not? What if I had nothing to prove or achieve, what would I want to create?” Ask yourself a nice open-ended question without looking for answers right away. Repeat it like a mantra and feel the creative blocks melt away. You can use this method in every other area of your life. It is powerful.
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4- DO IT FOR YOURSELF
Forget what others think or say and celebrate the creative moment you have given yourself. Results? The final product? What if they are less important than the sense of well-being that you experience through these creative moments? Beyond results, what matters is who you become while you create.
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5- SIMPLIFY TO AMPLIFY
Simplifying your personal practice, simplifying your materials, simplifying your creative process—all this can amplify your well-being. Because sometimes that is what you need most to rediscover the pleasure of creating, without putting pressure on yourself, or getting involved in long and complex projects.
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6- PLAY WITH WHAT IS IN FRONT OF YOU
Do you feel frustrated when you do not like what you are creating, or if things are not going as planned? Are you afraid to dive in? Do you feel uninspired? Play with what is in front of you. Play with this palette of emotions and let them flow without any attachment—find inner freedom to continue creating.
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7- PREPARE A CREATIVE SURVIVAL KIT
No room, no time? No worries. You can prepare your own survival kit to create whenever your heart desires and take advantage of unexpected breaks throughout your day. You can refresh this survival kit regularly—switch up the materials and stay inspired!
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8- SIGN YOUR CREATIONS
What you take the time to create is important, even sacred. Whatever it is, whatever the outcome. You dedicated time for yourself, connected with the materials, and that deserves to be celebrated. So, complete the process by signing your creations. Take a moment to feel proud for having taken the time to create. It is truly worth it. YOU ARE worth it.
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9- THINK ABOUT YOUR FUTURE SELF
If you do not know what to create, or do not have the energy to tackle something complicated, prepare supplies or raw materials for a future version of yourself that will be inspired and have the energy to create. Cut out pictures, paint backgrounds, clean your studio. Your future self will thank you for being able to create using what you prepared!
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10- WHAT IF TAKING A BREAK IS WHAT MATTERS MOST RIGHT NOW?
Sometimes doing nothing, creating nothing is what you really need. Rest. Take a moment to look at what you have created so far. These creations carry bits of you. If they could talk, what messages would they have? Write them down. You will see, it is a powerful process. This way you can receive the messages you need. (Note: Creations will never put you down. They always inspire you to grow and travel inwards. Listen carefully to what they are really saying about who you are becoming.)
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Manon Lavoie Author of Créer le meilleur de soi and the Cultiver une vie inspirée notebook Certified coach in creativity and positive psychology Founder of M comme Muses.