Stress & Creativity


“Stress can be addiction and worry can be our lunge for control and we forget the answer to this moment.”

-Ann Voscamp, pg. 143 One Thousand Gifts Devotional

There they are, words on a page that leap out at me in the semi-dark, silent, not-quite morning. I had previously stumbled onto a site online where a woman was recounting the horrific problems she had had following the exact surgery I just had. That familiar grip in my belly… the room bending in and out of shape. I grabbed hold of worry, perhaps as if it were a blanket that might soothe me, only to find it was filled with nettles, prickling every inch of me. Stress, worry, even fear…surely we all face these things. Yet it doesn’t make them any less gripping, nor does it make them go away.

“…we forget the answer to this moment.”


I’ve discovered an amazing connection between creativity and battling stress and worry. Early on, my artistic pursuits were propelled by sheer joy. I simply loved putting paint to paper and canvas. Still do. I also knitted up color as if it were paint and found that same joy bubbling up. But as the years went on, I realized those endeavors also had a way of calming my fears, lowering stress, diminishing worry.

I’ve often been asked how it is I do these things in the midst of a busy life. “They are my sanity!” I say. “And I need a lot of sanity!”


The interesting part is that with each stroke and stitch, gratitude wells up. As I draw the everyday things, places and people of my life I see what I’ve been given and that it is beautiful. As I stitch with needles or hook, prickly worries are chased away by the swords of color and form.

For Ann Voscamp, “The answer to this moment”, is gratitude. The answer to moment’s of worry or stress is to be thankful. Her methods for connecting with and calling out this thanks lies chiefly in writing them down and photographing them. I too write them down in that list form she challenged me to begin three years ago when I read her book One Thousand Gifts. But I also draw and knit to find the gratitude I need to chase away what can so easily paralyze me.


Therefore it is NOT a silly thing that one might make Art Before Breakfast (Danny Gregory’s latest book out soon!). It’s a rightful ordering of the day’s priorities. Nor is it crazy that another might take their knitting project bag along with them everywhere–fitting in a few stitches of gratitude around the beautiful and not-so-beautiful edges of our everyday lives.

So the next time worry threatens to choke me, I’ll continue reaching for my pens and paints, my sock knitting or in-process crochet blanket.

Won’t you join me in this battle against worry and stress? It’s lovely to have traveling companions!

4 thoughts on “Stress & Creativity

  1. freebirdsings says:

    It’s true, worries fall back into a realistic perspective when we sit down and create. it’s funny in a way because when we create we have to give up a bit of control to let the creativity out (maybe not all creatives need to but I sure do and from what people say, many others do too) and maybe that’s the key. We give up control in a safe way allowing fears and worries to lose their controlling grip on us as we allow ourselves to give up that control somewhat too. Creating is practicing control release!

    Maybe God got tired of being in total control also so let us step up with our freewill to finish off his earthly creation; too bad we make such a mess of the canvas but I do see we add a bit of “right” things from time to time like the huge march in Paris or the new antinbiotics scientists are developing. Artists add the sparkle to that huge canvas of earth life and I think that is very important to the whole picture too.

  2. Wild Daffodil says:

    I am one of those ‘crazy’ ones who will not go anywhere without a knitting or crochet project to pick up in odd moments or in lengthy meetings. I’m always surprised when people (always non-knitters) object to me knitting whilst chatting. Knitting and crochet have helped me through some very difficult times. I like the thought of each stitch, a stitch of gratitude – thank you for that.

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