Over the years I’ve had a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs with both my physical and mental health. A few years ago, I went through a really rough patch with my mental health – I was suffering from depression, as well as severe panic attacks and anxiety that was affecting every aspect of my life. At that time, it felt like the constant cycle of feeling low and anxious, not being able to get myself out of it, and so feeling more down and more anxious, would never end. All encompassing, stuck at home the outside world was too much for me to cope with but the four walls surrounding me were closing in and suffocating me more as each hour passed. Then one day I got out some clay and made some beads – really simple, just a few, and in the days and weeks that followed I did it more, that ‘bead’ of creativity inside of me starting to grow. It was something to keep my hands busy more than anything else. But it helped. It gave my brain something to focus on rather than endlessly worrying and thinking and turning things over. And each day that I was creative in some small way, I felt a little bit better. Like I had achieved something. Like I had a bit of space inside my head.
Crafting and creating has always been part of my life, but it was only when my mental health declined that I realised just how important creativity was to my wellbeing. That realisation motivated me to actively include time to make things in my day. Even if it was just half an hour of crochet whilst eating my lunch, or an hour of jewellery craft in the evening. Just having that little bit of time to do something creative would leave me feeling more positive, relaxed and refreshed. I wasn’t doing it for the end result really (although a good result was a plus point!!), that didn’t matter. It was the process of making that was important, and the way it allowed my mind to roam free and escape the cycle of anxiety that had become so consuming. Using my hands to create also helped to ground me in the present, rather than worrying constantly about the future, and reliving moments from the past.
Having a creative project on the go helps give me focus and a purpose. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all of the tasks you need to complete at any given moment in time, and when I feel bogged down by everything, I try to stop and work on one of my many work in progress projects that I always have on the go. Kneading some clay to make beads for a project, hand lettering part of a design for a frame or crocheting a few rows of a pattern – it all helps me feel like I’ve made some progress and achieved something, and that helps me feel like I can do the same with other tasks in life.