Art & Creativity for Relaxation on Your Fertility Journey
I really look forward those moments in the day when the tasks on my to-do list are completed and I get to just switch off and enjoy a little bit of art therapy. Creative expression has been a wonderful outlet for me since childhood, and even now in adulthood, I find it so fulfilling to engage this side of myself. Although it isn’t possible every day, I set aside that ‘art therapy time’ as often as I can. Whether I am playing around with watercolours, doing colouring, learning some new crafting techniques, or simply sitting down to write a poem or two, it always feels good to play a little and detach from the seriousness of everything else. Goodness knows how easy it is to get bogged down by that ‘seriousness’, especially when it comes to infertility and the challenges and all-consuming thought loops that accompany it. So, having space for gentle activities that help me unwind, definitely feels like a necessity at times.
I tend to look at creativity as a natural way for women to express themselves. I’ve seen it in the women in my family. My mother loves working with fabric, sewing things, painting designs and sometimes reupholstering old furniture. My grandmother expressed her creative side by recipe scrapbooking and in growing her beautiful garden. I have an aunt who is skilled in making beadworks and mosaics, and my mother-in-law is an incredibly talented musician. Seeing this sort of thing growing up and noticing just how much satisfaction each of them derived from it taught me that creativity is an important puzzle piece to the essence of life.
When I attended an art therapy workshop almost a decade ago now, I was fascinated to learn that there was a lot more to it than just making time for fun. The workshop facilitator explained that art therapy is an effective stress relief tool, making it a great light-hearted way of calming anxiety. Knowing all too well just how common anxiety can surface when you’re trying to conceive, I’ve leaned into art therapy as an opportunity to ease my mental stress load. It can be a great outlet, especially on days when one is faced with the reality of yet another negative pregnancy test.
Shedding further insight on the potentially beneficial role of art and creative expression in infertility, I came across a small study done by art therapy educator and researcher, Dr Sarah Deaver in which she assessed its impact on a group of women with infertility who participated in 6 sessions. Dr. Deaver’s study reported that “the levels of depression among participants decreased significantly” following the intervention. Like anxiety, depression too is also associated with infertility. Learning of Dr. Deaver’s findings reinforced my belief in the idea that there is merit in being able to address unspoken thoughts, emotions and stresses in various non-verbal creative methods.
For many of us, infertility means that we go through periods of time where we stop living fully. Somethings the little steps that we take to care for ourselves can appear seemingly insignificant at first glance, frivolous even. Yet, I have seen such tremendous benefits in following through on them. Self-care practices look different for each of us, and I am always an advocate of finding what resonates best with you personally. When you find that thing then allow yourself to enjoy it. You can never underestimate how therapeutic or beneficial it may be. Creating space in your life for freedom and fun is important in keeping a healthy balance.
How often do you get to enjoy your creative side? To just make something with your hands, play with colours, take photos or write some prose?
What kinds of creative activities do you find fun and engaging?