"In Times Of Despair & Destruction, Create Something New!"
January 2022 was very stressful for me as we thought we had contacted COVID. This prompted me to pen down my thoughts on what we can do to curb the spread. Though we tested negative, since we had mild symptoms we proactively stayed home for a few days. However, just one day before the onset I had gone to meet my 97-year old grandmom and that was causing me more anxiety, till the report came back negative. I was very worried if I had unknowingly passed on the virus to my parents and grandmom.
Anxiety and stress can lead to many issues like sleeplessness, fatigue, headaches, body pain, and sometimes some form of depression as well. I had all of these and it continued even after the negative reports as I was unnecessarily building worst-case scenarios in my head – may be influenced by the horrible 2021 that I had. Whenever I am stressed and things seem beyond my control, I turn to stuff that I love to do the most and which relax me – reading, gardening, or creating. Since I had a headache and sleepless was at night, the first 2 options were ruled out. So I brought out my paints to complete a few pending projects that I had parked. Something about the mess on my fingers, cleaning the brushes after the night’s work, putting the paints away, always calms me.
One night some of the paint had stained the bristles and since I couldn’t find the paint thinner, I took out my sanitizer bottle to spray some instead. Looking at the little plain spray bottle that I now carry with me everywhere, I got an idea to make it a little more interesting. And since my folks were on my mind, I decided to experiment and create something as a gift for them.
I tried various kinds of paintwork on the extra plain bottles that I had with me and managed to create a few that I liked. As a little pick-me-up, I also included motivational quotes and personalized them with my parents’ initials. My parents loved their gifts!
I tried 4 different kinds of work – Decoupage, Glass Paint, Zentangle Lines, and Free Form Designs. Each of them involves different kinds of paints and techniques. After experimenting and looking at the end results, I definitely felt much better.
Decoupage involves working with paints, special glue, and tissue paper with beautiful prints on them. Of all 4, this involves the most use of my fingers as I have to dab the paint, spread the glue and stick the paper. I love to get them messy with glue and paint – supremely satisfying to get them clean afterward.
Though the bottles were plastic, since they were transparent I decided to experiment with glass paint as well. I am not very good at this form as it requires creating outlines and filling them with special paint. I don’t have a very steady hand and the outliner sometimes proves to be a challenge.
For Zentangle and Free Form Designs, I used different bright colored paints as the base and created the designs using black permanent markers.
I love creating things and very often make little gifts for friends and family. While many of them are small and may not cost much, each is made with love and specifically for the person. Apart from the satisfaction of looking at the final work, it gives me great pleasure when I see the gifts being used and appreciated by the receiver.
Some Benefits Of Creative Work On Mental Health
Helps Keep The Child In Us Alive
Creative work is very forgiving. If you goof up, in most cases you can start all over again. Many times, as adults we choose a hobby that is related to an activity that gave us joy as children. So it helps us reconnect with our childhood, the easy days, and how simply we accepted our mistakes and worked towards improving them.
Changes The Focus
When you start creating something, be it painting, knitting, craftwork, or anything else, you require a certain amount of concentration on the work at hand. This automatically takes your mind off other things. This change in focus on the task at hand can help bring down stress and anxiety levels to a very large extent.
When you create something, the end product fills you with a sense of accomplishment and motivates you. But did you know that this happens because your brain fills with a feel-good chemical called dopamine! That is why you are in a better mood when you are creating something and look forward to doing it again.
Improves Both Mental & Physical Health
Research has proven that creative work helps with dementia, anxiety, and depression. Sometimes it acts as an outlet for any trauma. I can cite myself as an example as I started my ‘official’ blogging journey after the loss of my dog Scotty, as an outlet for my anguish. At other times, creativity can help people tap or reconnect with their forgotten selves.
Helps Connect With Others
Creative work often provides you the opportunity to be part of classes to hone your skills or be part of communities that meet with a common agenda. Even today’s Social Media world provides a beautiful platform to share your creative work and thoughts with the world. It also has communities of people with similar interests – it is great networking in such platforms where you get to virtually meet people and exchange ideas.
I have found that creative work is my escape as well as a solution to some problems. It is a simple and non-expensive way to relieve me of my stress. Each of us has some bit of creativity in us – why not tap into that and improve the quality of life. For me my go-to favorites are reading, writing, gardening and craftwork. What are yours?