Creative inspiration - Making a mess to clear the mind - How lockdown rekindled my love for creating

Creative inspiration - Making a mess to clear the mind - How lockdown rekindled my love for creating

Part of a series of creative inspiration stories from different people about creativity and how it has helped them, why it is important and how they hope it inspires others. Yolande works for an arts charity, here she discusses how lockdown rekindled her love for creating.

Over the past year we have all had to face huge challenges and adapt to unfamiliar ways of life that has been called “the new normal”. As we start to see a way out of lockdown and some brighter days ahead, now seems like a good time to think about what we might have learnt from the past year and if there is a habit or way of living that we want to maintain.

For me, learning to slow down and to put time into growing plants, making things and developing new skills, is something that I am intending to keep doing. Hopefully writing this will help hold me accountable!

This newly kindled respect for making is something that I am not alone in. In August of last year a Guardian article stated that the craft supplies retailer Hobbycraft saw a 200% increase in the online sales during lockdown. Over the past year there has been a huge increase in craft kits and online art classes, Channel 4 broadcasted Grayson’s Art Club, it is clear that there was a big push for us to start tickling that part of our brain.

But what’s it all about? In a time where we were all dealing with some incredibly stressful life events, why turn to creative activities?

It is well documented and evidenced that participating in creative activity whether it be painting, music or getting out in the garden, can significantly improve our physical and mental wellbeing. There is strong evidence that when being creative, dopamine, often known as “the happy hormone”, can be released and levels of cortisol, a hormone that is associated with stress, can decrease. Creativity is so often seen as the cherry on the top of something, the little extra if there’s time. But through findings like these we can start to see that being creative can be a fundamental part in maintaining a healthy life.

Having always considered myself a “creative person”, whatever that means as ALL PEOPLE ARE CREATIVE - you don’t have to be able to paint the Sistine Chapel to be considered creative, I took for granted what making something actually did for my health. I did a drama degree where I got to learn and create performances and I have a job at an art charity where I come into contact with artists and makers everyday. As my time filled with thinking about creativity in a more analytical way (less, look at that piece of artwork and more, I better send that email) my hands stopped picking up brushes and sewing needles. It was time to re-address that balance.

Over lockdown I started buying more craft kits and seeds, watched YouTube tutorials and scrolled through Pinterest. I tried lino cutting, punch needlework and grew more courgettes than I could foist off to the neighbours.

Having a project gave me structure and some hope to the day, it allowed me to feel like I was still moving onwards. Having always had structure and a plan, to have a year where everything was up in the air unsettled me.

Of course, being creative is not always a triumph, sometimes you get something wrong and your design appears to fall apart in front of your eyes. But having a safe way of failing was good too, this is how we learn. Take a step back, reflect and take that new knowledge forward.

Creativity provides us with so many things. It alters our bodies physical responses, it gives us a chance to connect with other like-minded people whether face-to-face or virtually, and it provides us with some pretty sound analogies for life. It also comes in all shapes and sizes, whether it be the smallest tomato seed planted in a pot on your windowsill or a giant canvas that you cover in spray paint - I urge you to give it a go.

Have fun with it, even if you have less than 10 minutes spare, it’s important to keep discovering that part of your mind. It may not cure everything, but it’s a start.

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