The Art of Self Care: Why making Art is good for your Mental Health

When was the last time you did something creative? For many of us it was a likely a long long time ago. Yet creative acts are shown to be powerful way to explore your emotions, practice mindfulness and reduce stress. We’ve all got the capacity to be creative, but self criticism, fear of other people’s opinions and beliefs about not being a ‘creative person’ can stop us from even getting started. Creativity is a muscle that needs to be exercised to get stronger! Along with being a fun outlet, there are huge benefits for your mental health.

Here are 4 reasons to inspire you to pick up or return to a creative hobby:

1. Reduce stress and improve your mood

Whether you are knitting, doodling or collaging; creating something can be a great way to practice mindfulness. Fully focusing on the task at hand can be a route to getting into flow state and distracting you from other worries. Just 45 minutes of creative activity can reduce stress, regardless of your level of experience. Completing a creative activity from start to finish can also boost your motivation and create a sense of accomplishment.

2. Connect with your emotions

Sometimes it can be hard to articulate what you are feeling with words. Using shapes, colours and lines can provide a path to processing your emotions, positive or negative, and discovering more about your self. Turning an amorphous feeling in your mind into a tangible thing on paper can help you gain new perspectives.

3. Have a bit of fun!

A creative habit is a wonderful way of adding a bit of fun to your day to day life. There are countless different mediums, exercises and sources of inspiration to explore. Where could your curiosity lead you? I recently saw a TikTok where someone create a really cool bit of origami called a Victorian love token. Rather than wait for the tutorial, I sat down and spent a while figuring out how to make it myself. After much paper folding, it was delightful when it finally worked out. Did it serve a purpose? Not really, but figuring out how to create the piece myself was so satisfying. Resist the pressure to turn every hobby into a side hustle and create something purely for the joy of creating.

4. A path for finding new pals

Developing your creative skills through classes, workshops and talks provides a great medium for meeting folks with similar interests. Whether online or offline, there are options for every experience level. If you are keen to develop a creative habit, signing up for class provides additional structure and accountability to help you build momentum.

If you want to inject more creativity in your life but don’t know where to get started, here are a few things o remember:

Start small: Don't put too much pressure on yourself to create a masterpiece right away. Start with small projects, such as colouring or collaging , to build your confidence.

Experiment: Try different mediums and techniques to find what you enjoy the most. Kits and workshops are a great way to sample different creative mediums before investing a fortune in new kit.

Don’t let your inner art critic win: For many of us that little voice in our heads can stifle our creative endeavours before we get started. Remind your self that creating art is a process, focus on enjoying the act of making rather than your idea of what the outcome should look like.

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