How Do You Leverage Creativity to Reduce Anxiety? Sarah Spencer Teaches How to Use Curiosity and Imagination to Find Sparks of Joy in Your Life, Episode 80

Get ready to uncover an incredibly unique way you can identify your values, how creativity can help you reclaim a sense of calm in times of high anxiety, and why some of us may be able to draw life-like images while others draw stick figures. 

I stumbled on this week’s guest on the Creative Enlightenment publication on Medium. Sarah Spencer wrote an article about her fear of sharks and how she is able to tackle her fears with a creative plan. Be sure to do the exact exercise Sarah asks her clients to do to uncover their values. And when you DM me on Instagram @melissallarena, I want to get to know what matters most in your life, and from my profile you’ll get a sense of my values too. 

More about Sarah Spencer, she is the founder of 26 Letters Studio. She is a storyteller, professional listener, graphic facilitator, and tool builder who has decades of experience training people in leadership positions to be more creative and innovative. Her magic is in creating an environment for learning that releases anxiety and supports innovative thinking. Her years of research into culture, play, and creativity have resulted in an array of tools and techniques to guide participants through roadblocks and challenges in professional and personal arenas. 

Visualization is the key component to success, and Sarah’s expert direction illuminates the power of visual communication for greater understanding, retention, and creativity. Sarah loves life in the Sonoran desert with frequent jaunts to the mountains to refuel her soul. Her interests include writing, drawing, hiking, gardening, biking, snow skiing, and road-tripping around the World. 

Share this episode with anyone who you know may be experiencing anxiety. They will get plenty of ideas on how to leverage art as a way to release their feelings and smile. We are all creative, and knowing how to use our imagination to be more courageous is what this entire podcast is about.


  • Creativity: Anxiety exists in the past and in the future. With creativity and being in the flow, you’re present in the now. And when you’re really paying attention to the now, the anxiety lifts and moves away. 
  • The inner critic: We are born without an inner critic. The inner critics are the echoes of other people’s voices telling us that we can’t do something.
  • Visualization: Expand your idea about what is possible in your drawing. Drawing is a self-experiment for people to examine how they visualize the world.
  • Born creative: You are human, therefore you are creative. To overcome anxiety around using that word to describe you, get around people who are empathetic toward you. 
  • Exploration: In three separate columns, list what you love, what you’re good at, and what people tell you you’re good at. Then start mixing up those combinations and you will come up with some interesting things to do. Sadly, we don’t give ourselves enough credit for what we are good at and we take things for granted. 
  • Paper sketching: Take a pile of colored paper and a pair of scissors, and without drawing any marks on the paper, start cutting shapes out of it. The better you get at it, the more refined the shapes are, and you can start building pictures. 
  • Values: Your values are your North Star. If you don’t know what your values are, then you don’t know if what you are actually doing is getting you in the direction of your happiness. 
  • Purpose: If you’re doing something you don’t like, and especially if it is about the money, that is going to demolish your inner child’s creative spirit and it’s going to wear you out. Therefore, it’s important to consider what you’re doing and what the purpose is. 
  • Creating joy: As human beings, we have to do a lot of things we don’t want to do. In between those times, find sparks of joy and fun and surround yourself with supportive people.
  • Imagination: God would never give us an imagination larger than what we are capable of realizing. Therefore, you can do anything you can imagine.
  • Abundance: Inspiration explodes with groups of people who are all creating together. You can just be one other person, but when you are co-creating, the ideas become larger than just the two or four of you. 

Links to continue to learn from Sarah Spencer:

Continue to listen to An Interview With Melissa Llarena podcast episodes 

Continue To Explore My Other Binge-Worthy Episodes

Books mentioned

The Medici Effect: The Medici Effect: What Elephants and Epidemics Can Teach Us About Innovation

Want to continue the conversation?

Find me on Instagram! You can read my daily mini-blogs centered on the same three topics that my podcast features: creativity, courage, and curiosity. I believe that without all three it would be impossible to solve the challenges we were each uniquely made to solve. Wouldn’t you agree? I’m easy to find on Instagram @melissallarena

Rather keep it professional?

Let’s connect on LinkedIn. I encourage every single podcast listener to connect with me.




Posted in

Melissa Llarena

Melissa Llarena is an author, imagination coach, consultant, speaker, and contributor to ForbesWomen articles that have garnered 4 million + views. She is also the host of Unimaginable Wellness, the podcast for entrepreneurs, founders, and creators who are also moms. Featured guests include GaryVee and Beth Comstock. Melissa holds a psychology degree from New York University, an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, and a Transformational Coaching Academy certificate. She is training to become a meditation practitioner. Melissa lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and three sons. Visit

Leave a Comment


Get your FREE 2023 back-to-work eBook for moms

Do you want to know EXACTLY how to think about returning to work?

Want to uncover what's changed?

What if you'll need new training?

Grab this book in April for FREE for these answers and more!