Why It’s Absolutely Okay NOT To Feel Creative In This Crisis. By Dr Linda Berman

28019491092_94e8647178_cRichard Tuschman – Pale Light [2015] Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.

Do you feel anxious, tense, lacking motivation, worried about the present and the future and as if your life has been turned upside down?

Does all the talk of creativity in crisis pass you by, or make you feel worse, increasing the pressure on you, because you are actually sluggish and far from creative?

If so, you are not alone. Many people feel like this; it is an entirely understandable reaction to Coronavirus anxiety and lockdown.

Spending weeks, maybe months, waiting in a state of uncertainty for some kind of release from the threat of this pandemic is not an experience conducive to relaxation or peace of mind. It is a tense and unsettling period for most of us.

14987656585_63314d6a96_cSampsa Sarparanta – Time Is Long When Waiting. Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.

How we react to this will differ, but, underneath, we are all likely to be experiencing some kind of anxiety. No-one need feel embarrassed or guilty about having such a lethargic state of mind at this time.

24312337877_e9fc2cbb23_cJoan Eardley – The Table [1953] Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.

We may wonder:-

“Where has the solid ground gone?” The world feels uncertain now, confused, out of our control, fragmented, as if the landscape of our lives has become abstracted in a way that is hard to comprehend.

The world as we know it has been shattered, and then put back together for us in a disorientating way.


Albert Gleizes – Cubist Landscape [1914] Flickr: Gandalf’s Gallery.

Perhaps we are thinking ” How will I cope with this and for how long will it go on?” “How can I manage the isolation, the fear of illness, the social distancing, the staring at a screen as a substitute for real human contact?”


Paul Cézanne – Young Italian Woman at a Table [c.1895-1900]Gandalf’s Gallery.Flickr.

This is an ordeal, a real trauma, a catastrophe like none of us has ever had to endure before. There is nothing to call on, for most of us, in living history, that compares with this.

Adjusting to such a drastic change in our lives is not easy. Our sleep may be disturbed, to-do lists may be abandoned, routines cast aside.


Markus Âkesson – Insomnia [2011] Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr

“When a crisis presents itself, everything that had been familiar, predictable, and controllable is upended. Without a clearly defined and accessible set of values to stand on, it can be very difficult to maintain your psychological and emotional equilibrium, resulting in a significant destabilization of your life.”

Jim Taylor. How To survive and Thrive When Bad Things Happen.

We may also discover that our feelings are inconsistent and variable; one day we may feel energetic and bright, on another, our mood may dip and we will feel low and anxious.


Michael Mao – Morning Dream Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr

How on earth can we manage all these disparate and unsettling feelings?


Lucian Freud – Boy’s Head [1952] Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.

Reducing the Pressure On Ourselves.

“We each survive in our own way.”

Sarah J. Maas

For many of us, focussing on our own survival and getting through everyday life is challenge enough.

It is important not to feel bad about not being creative; on the contrary, it may also be an act of creative thinking to allow oneself to BE, without feeling any pressure to DO any more than is essential to get through this awful time.

Being kind to ourselves is crucial now…….

“Go for long walks,
indulge in hot baths,
Question your assumptions,
be kind to yourself,
live for the moment,
loosen up, scream,
curse the world,
count your blessings,
Just let go,
Just be.”

Carol Shields


Woman in Bath Sponging Her Leg. Degas. Wikimedia Commons.

Distraction and Ritual As A Way Of Coping With Destabilisation.

“With Death in the streets, I didst turneth hence from the Broth’rhood of Man and seeketh deliverance in distraction.”

Stewart Stafford.

Distraction may have both positive and negative connotations; the internet and technology have, in this millennium especially, been criticised as a negative force in our lives, damaging our attention and concentration.

However, that was before Coronavirus. Now we have the ‘new normal,’ and it is well known that in strange and unusual times, we have to adopt different ways of being, some of which may have been regarded as inappropriate or unhealthy during the ‘old normal’ times. We have to adapt in order to survive this.

In this current ‘new normal,’ the distraction of technology may sometimes be very necessary. Our concentration span may also have been affected by the fears engendered by the Coronavirus pandemic, so we may need to turn to less taxing activities.

“The secret of survival is a defective imagination.”

John Banville.

It may be that all we can do is casually surf the internet, or play online games, read mindless magazines, chat on the phone or Zoom for ages with friends.

If that is helpful, then now is the time to indulge in such activities. There are many ways to survive this ordeal……..

“I told her once I wasn’t good at anything. She told me survival is a talent.”
Susanna Kaysen


Francis Picabia – Portrait of a Blonde [c.1942-43] Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.

If the media news feels too disturbing, it may be important to deflect one’s attention away from the constant information about Coronavirus and, perhaps, away from our own desperate and depressing thoughts about the future.

Distraction can help us deal with the pain of what is going on around us and in the world. It takes our mind off our predicament.

Yet if we are not feeling creative, what can we distract ourselves with, other than the internet, which obviously does have its limitations?

When your resources become depleted from the stress of a crisis, it’s important to refuel by doing things that produce enjoyment, excitement, meaning, satisfaction, inspiration, and pride. Common outlets include sports, cultural and spiritual pursuits, cooking, reading, watching movies, and other hobbies. All of these act as healthy distractions and respites from the intensity required to resolve a crisis.

Jim Taylor. How To Survive and Thrive When Bad Things Happen.

Many times I have heard and seen over the past few weeks that people are learning to distract themselves with simple rituals, perhaps uncomplicated cooking, dusting or simple gardening, nothing too taxing on the mind.

There may be a feeling of comfort and reassurance in these rather repetitive, mechanical activities, a sense that things can be more reliable and solid. For these are timeless, familiar, connective, tasks, which we did before this pandemic and that we will continue into the future.

6779039876_8702c3762b_cJon Stroup – The Gardener [1979] Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.

“Sometimes, when you’re troubled and hurt, you pour yourself into things that can’t hurt back.”

-Gentleman’s Agreement.

“One man’s distraction is another man’s refuge.”

Khang Kijarro Nguyen.


Whatever makes us feel comforted , whatever helps us through, we need to be doing now. As long as it is not harmful to self or other, then it is important to indulge ourselves sometimes with the little treats that make us happier.

Thus we need to be aware of the importance of rest right now, of good food, of relaxation, stroking the cat, taking the dog for a walk. For each of us, what we choose will differ according to our personalities and our personal needs.


Sandro Nocentini – Woman with Cat [2014] Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.

One of these days, when the virus has receded, can we make something good come out of this? Can we put our world together in a better way?

The Thing Is

to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again. 

― Ellen Bass


“No matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life goes on, and it will be better tomorrow.”

Maya Angelou

©Linda Berman.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s