It's pretty easy to get into a funk these days, particularly when the stress of COVID-19 is upon us all impacting everything from childcare to job security, making us all feel a little crazy. But good news here! Being creative is a fast easy way to perk up your mood, begin thinking more positively and improve your life outlook.
Creativity isn't just painting and drawing. It's a lifestyle!
Lets get started.
Go for a walk. I know, I know! This sounds like a cop out, but I promise you it works! Fresh air in your lungs, moving those legs, letting your mind wander. These things will help get your mind off your worries and switch you to a different perspective in your thinking.
Go to your local library (if it's open and if not, you can do this online using a search engine) You have no idea how many ideas that can spark when you're surrounded by a tonne of knowledge. Go to the art section and pick up some books you wouldn't ordinarily look at. Check out ancient Egyptian history, read up on Monet. Why not find out all you can about Frida Kahlo? They say knowledge is power, but I truly believe it's freedom from yourself.
Stroke a cat. Weird? Maybe! Does it work? Definitely! Stroking a cat - or any animal, hey dogs! - releases endorphins and give you an instant pick up. You think creativity is just about drawing and painting? Think again. It's about opening your mind to new experiences. But please make sure to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards!
Sit down and watch your favourite movie. Carving out time for you to simply enjoy something you know you will love will put you in a more positive frame of mind, opening up new possibilities to seize the day, when opportunities come a knocking!
Pick up a biro or pencil and start to draw. Don't know what to draw? Draw your sitting room. Draw your bathroom. Draw your own face in the mirror. Once you get started, the ball will start to roll. Another amazing benefit of drawing without worrying what you're going to draw next? You reach the flow state, where your everyday worries slip away and you're focused on only the task in hand. Often, your mind will calm down during this state, and when you're in it, you're giving that little voice in your head that rattles away all day a bit of a break. To reach this flow state, try drawing your sofa, and drawing all the creases and textures in the fabric. You won't believe how great you feel afterwards!
Paint a wall in your house. DIY stores offer tester pots for a fraction of the price of a big can of paint. Why not get a selection, and make a cool geometric design using masking tape? Changing up a room in your house can bring a fresh sense of opportunity in, and you never know where that might lead if you follow it. And have fun with this! Why not check out some YouTube videos of people doing the same thing and get inspired!
Read a book. Reading breaks you open, whips you away to another country, another time period, into another person and takes you on an adventure. You can buy bestsellers from charity shops for 20p these days. Why not try and read an author you've always wanted to check out, but never got round to? Even if your whole day is full and busy, twenty minutes of reading before bed puts you in a sleepy mood, helps you nod off, and quietens your mind to those insidious worries that often only come out when it's time to sleep.
Write a letter. That's right. Write! No one really uses snail mail anymore and that's such a shame. There's nothing lovelier than sitting down with a cup of tea, and a blank piece of paper with a friend or family member in mind. What do you want to tell them? Will this letter be spanning a few weeks? Will you work on it daily, adding little bits of information? Or will it be written in five minutes, an info dump about your busy day? Handwriting allows you to think slower, as we write slower by hand. Slow down, and let the ideas flow.
Bake! Your waistline might not thank you, but baking is the ultimate mindful activity. Put the radio on and sink into a well used recipe, taking time and care over the sieving of the flour and the kneading of the dough. Not only will you have spent a very calming hour - or a fun chaotic one with kids! - but you will have produced something that (hopefully!) tastes delicious at the end of it!
Start free writing. This is when you get a pad of paper and start to write. If you're stuck, begin with a shopping list or things you have to do this week. Then, perhaps you can write about how you're feeling right now, and how your week has been. What's been worrying you? What's on your mind? What's made you happy this week, or sad? What has brought you joy? What are you looking forward to tomorrow (note: this can be as simple as eating a nice pastry! It doesn't have to be epic!) write your feelings. As they pour out, you'll feel lighter, and you'll understand yourself a little better too, which is only a good thing.
Lizzie Mary Cullen is an award-winning artist and writer based in Hastings in the UK. For a short time you can buy a download of print-at-home colouring pages from her website to kick-off your creative journey. https://www.lizziemarycullen.com/shop