How Up-Cycling and DIY help my anxiety

Crafting to be calm

I am an anxious person, I may hide it well but I am a chronic over thinker. A born worrier and sensitive to the world at times. The way some people suffer from a bad back I suffer from being anxious and I have to be extra kind to myself at times.

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t anxious, to be honest. I was an anxious child/teen and adult. On the outside I am really calm, When I tell people I have anxiety they seem quite shocked but anybody who has anxiety knows that we are really good at hiding it. This world is so full of noise and chaos these days that I am surprised more people aren’t suffering from anxiety. Mobile phones, tv, the internet, ads, social media, pressure from peers and trying to be perfect. It is easy to get overwhelmed nowadays.

I have had many a panic attack but a feeling I dread the most is a lingering feeling of anxiety. Panic attacks are horrible, horrendous and I wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy. What I tend to suffer with is that constant feeling of dread for no apparent reason. When I feel like that I have to be extra kind with myself and take steps to ease it. The feeling of anxiety is hard to describe. You have to get on with your day to day jobs all the while feeling like someone is chasing you and you just want to run. Sweaty palms, thumping heart and a dizzy and foggy head, the list of symptoms are endless. Doing normal tasks like queuing in a shop or coffee with a friend become hard and unbearable.

The first step in easing anxiety is talking about it. The more I talk about anxiety the more people open up to me about their anxiety. Whether it is in the workplace or with friends I have noticed that by saying “I feel anxious today” my anxiety eases quicker. For years I would fight my anxiety. I would exhaust myself trying not to be anxious. I would wait to feel better. Nowadays, I accept I am anxious or having a bad spell of anxiety. I do things I know help to ease it until it passes. I no longer frantically search google for cures for anxiety or google my symptoms. I don’t take medication for anxiety but there have been times when I was younger and my anxiety was crippling. The first place you should go for any help is your doctor. I am also a good lover of a self-help book and my favourite book for anxiety was by Claire Weekes. I still have her audiobook on my phone and I listen to it when I am going through a bad patch.

I love nowadays that more people are talking about their mental health. I still think we have a long way to go but I love when I hear people who also feel how I do as I no longer feel alone or odd or crazy. I love seeing bloggers and celebrities talk about their mental health, especially nowadays in a world full of noise.

DIY for distraction

I started up-cycling furniture after buying my home. After purchasing my home and moving in I had that period of constant anxiety. Maybe it was the stress of it all, maybe the change, who knows? I would come home from work feeling frazzled. I would sit on the couch watching TV and end up feeling worse.

I got into DIY by chance, not knowing where to start with decorating the house I went to an interior styling workshop. It was in that class they talked about painting furniture. I then attended a few painting workshops and then my passion and creativity spilt out. Instead of coming home from work and watching TV I was coming home with random pieces of furniture and pots of chalk paint. Although I was still struggling with anxiety I noticed over time it began to ease. When I was in work I was excited to get home to finish a project I started. I still had anxious “What if” thoughts but them moments of getting excited over something I was going to create slowly replaced them thoughts.



Painting through panic

I used to dread Sundays, I would fret about the week ahead and be full of panic. So I started filling my Sundays with projects. Whether it was redecorating, painting a chair or learning to sew I was occupying my mind. Some of my best pieces of DIY work have been done when having a panic attack. I am the sort of person where I need to get all my energy out when I feel that way. Sitting on a couch and resting does not really make me feel better. Creating and moving gets all of that tense energy out. Focusing on painting a piece of furniture calms down my mind. I try and be mindful and focus on each brush stroke. Then I start getting excited about my piece and seeing it come together and then I get the crafter buzz. That buzz you get when you finish a piece and it looks deadly! After a few hours creating I notice my anxiety is eased. Even when my anxiety returns at least I had them few anxiety free hours where I was creating.

Over the course of a few months, I noticed my anxiety was easing as I was focused on what I was creating. I still had bad days and weeks but they were becoming less frequent. They also were not lasting as long as once I got engrossed in a project the anxiety eased quicker. I had replaced fighting my anxiety with accepting it and distracting myself and it was working. I would accept that I was feeling anxious and would do something productive with my time until it passed.

The next time your feeling really anxious maybe try picking up a paintbrush? Sewing also helps and I know some ladies who love a good cross stitch session to put fear at bay.

What helps your anxiety? I am always open to trying something new. Recently I have been feeling anxious in the mornings before work so I have started to power walk to work to burn off the excess tension before I get to work and it is definitely helping.

I hope this post helps in some way, Don’t be afraid to talk to people you trust if you are not feeling yourself. As the saying is ” is okay to not be okay”.

Thank you for reading,

Chat soon,




  1. Claire Bowden
    June 1, 2017 / 8:20 pm

    Lovely from the heart 😊

    • Catherine Carton
      June 1, 2017 / 9:59 pm

      Thank you so much for reading Claire xxx

  2. kelly haworth
    June 1, 2017 / 8:34 pm

    Sounds very familiar miss Dainty, DIY is definitely good therapy…anxiety is so crippling, go girl for sharing what a lot of people are embarrassed to talk aboutSending loveKelly H

    • Catherine Carton
      June 1, 2017 / 10:00 pm

      Agh thanks for reading Kelly x I hope that the more we talk about it the less of a stigma it will be x

  3. QQ's view
    June 1, 2017 / 8:38 pm

    Thanks for sharing…anxiety is and can be so overwhelming…enjoying your IG…take good care of you 🦋✨💜💫

    • Catherine Carton
      June 1, 2017 / 10:00 pm

      Thank you so much for reading x It can get so overwhelming and frustrating at times but taking little steps has helped me ease it xx

  4. Lyn's Sussex Life
    June 2, 2017 / 4:46 am

    Thank you for sharing your life with us Catherine.xx

  5. Karen Constantine
    June 2, 2017 / 8:55 am

    What a fantastic post bridie – it just goes to show that even the littlest things can help when we're feeling anxious xxx

  6. Poppy
    June 4, 2017 / 12:43 pm

    First, thanks Catherine for sharing. Not always easy to share. Indeed, mental health is a slippery topic as people often jump to conclusions (ie straight jacket). I had my first anxiety attack in twenty years a fourthnight ago. Argh, horrible! I thought about gardening to calm it down but since it's been raining alot, maybe knitting for rainy days…

  7. Valerie Nijssen
    June 14, 2017 / 10:47 am

    Thank you for sharing! You are a wonderful person and you give so much joy to all of us! X

  8. Lisa
    August 2, 2017 / 6:45 pm

    Oh My Goodness! You are a kindred spirit. (To quote one of my favorite authors ) I was a nervous anxious child who had the disadvantage of a Type A personality to boot. I was termed neurotic at times. Adulthood/parenting added it's own upheavels. On a visit to my hometown,my aunt handed me a paint brush in a class she was teaching one evening. I have not stopped painting since. I have gone on to teach classes, in painting, sewing, writing, and gardening. As well as to host more than just a few tea parties. Which on this side of the pond I consider a dying art. Well done you for accomplishing all you are doing and have done. I love your video's, your blog site and your most wonderful calming voice. Listening to you is like sitting down with an old friend to catch up. You are quite a talented young lady. Blessings on you and all that you put a hand to do.

    • Catherine Carton
      August 3, 2017 / 9:07 pm

      Aw Lisa, your comment lifted me. Thank you so so much for reading! x

  9. Zarasha1
    August 9, 2017 / 2:12 am

    Hi Catherine, It's really nice of you to share your struggles to show others we are not alone in our struggles in the world. I need sunlight and fresh air everyday or I fall into deep depression . Fasting and praying really helps with depression and anxiety. If you can fast once a week from 6a.m. to 6p.m. you will feel the difference. This helps the body to heal itself physically, emotionally and physically. Anytime I start having the symptoms of depression I know It's time to go on a fast. From 6 to 6 all I take in body is water. Life is very overwhelming and sometimes we have to give our being rest from everything and fasting does just that.Food we eat also affects mood and feelings. Giving ourselves rest from it bring us back to balance.

  10. charmingtales520
    September 22, 2017 / 2:14 am

    I also suffer with this as well as PTSD from an accident that I had back in August 2009. I have it from a rape that happened back in 2003. I am on medication and it really helps me to deal with it I also see a special doctor and most important a support group which helps a lot. I will keep you in my prayers

  11. The Whimsical Wife
    November 30, 2017 / 4:39 am

    I can't believe that's what I've been doing all along when I've felt anxious or on edge. Picking up a paintbrush and having a project on the go has kept me sane this year. Thanks for sharing. I have just stumbled across your blog and youtube channel and I've fallen in love with you and it – in a non creepy way. I will be back to stalk your posts some more. 🙂

  12. sue preston
    August 22, 2018 / 10:57 am

    We have a craft club and we have always said crafting is therapy. Thank you for being so open. Sue

    • Catherine Carton
      August 23, 2018 / 11:59 am

      I love the idea of a craft club, a crafting community x

  13. emma langley
    August 22, 2018 / 4:20 pm

    I was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year and I anticipated a huge rise in my anxiety levels. We are also renovating a holiday cottage on the isle of wight. Amazingly the process of decorating and renovating has been incredibly therapeutic through my initial processing of my diagnosis. It kept my brain busy and reduced it drifting to the 'what if' and my hands busy so i didnt go to dr google. I am now undergoing treatment and find with each roubd of chemo i either upcycle some furniture or make some soft furnishings so i feel like i have achieved something. Big up from me to DIY 🙂

    • Catherine Carton
      August 23, 2018 / 12:00 pm

      I love this, Wishing you a speedy recovery, Keep up the fab work. Your cottage is going to be fab, a labour of love x

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