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…And Breathe – Creativity

…And Breathe – Creativity

A mental-wellbeing column by counsellor, Kristen Bauer 

Ever since I can remember, I have always loved arts and crafts. You can imagine my delight when my mother started working in a scrapbooking shop! I used to go there after school and sit in the scrapbooking classroom to do my homework. They used to let me use all the leftover bits of different colour paper from the morning classes as well as the various paints, stamps and inks they kept for the customers. I used to love sitting there experimenting with all the fun products, decorating my homework. It almost used to make my homework feel like fun…I said almost! 

All joking aside, I can remember the joy and pride I felt after handing in a project or finishing up a ‘Groovy Chick’ inspired craft idea. For those who grew up in the nineties/noughties, you may remember the ‘Make it Groovy’ magazine that had DIY craft, beauty and fashion ideas. Looking back, some of my DIY items were not all that great, particularly the fashion items, but at the time I thought they were brilliant! 

When I was young, I would create for the fun of it but as an adult, I’ve found that unless it’s going to be useful or I can make a career out of it, it feels as though it isn’t worth my time. We encourage children to draw and paint and craft, play an instrument even, not because we are expecting a masterpiece but because it is fun. 

I would like to encourage us as adults to do the same. I recently bought myself a colouring book and I find it very relaxing to stick on some music and colour. Sometimes I catch myself thinking, ‘There’s no point to this, it’s not like I am going to stick it on the wall’ but that’s not the point. 

When you do something creative like, draw, knit, colour etc. you get into a state of flow, where you get completely absorbed by what you are doing and lose your sense of self and time. This flow helps to reduce anxiety and increase your happiness. When you succeed at creating, no matter what the result is, your brain releases the feel-good chemical dopamine that, as well as helping with motivation, almost acts as a natural anti-depressant. * 

You may not think of yourself as a creative person but there are so many different ways for us to express our creativity. There are the obvious ones such as painting and drawing, pottery-making but let’s not forget music. You could learn to play an instrument or pick up that old guitar that you haven’t played in years. How about gardening for the green fingered people of the world or writing, be it a journal or a story. No matter what you choose to do, remember this, “Everybody is talented because everybody who is human has something to express.” Brenda Ueland 

*Article: Here’s how creativity actually Improves your mental health by Ashley Stahl ) 

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