Creativity For Anxiety
Now more than ever, self-care is so important. With restrictions and uncertainty, feelings of anxiety can become overwhelming. I want to share how I have used crafting and up-cycling to calm my mind.
The past few years, I have been using creativity to ease my feelings of anxiety. With most of us stuck at home, it can feel like groundhog day. So, if your anxiety symptoms have increased, and you want to get inspired to try something new, I hope you find this post useful.
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. Some people suffer from a bad back, I suffer from being anxious, and I have to be extra kind to myself at times.
Honestly, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t anxious. I had episodes of anxiety as a child/teen and an adult. On the outside, I am calm. When I tell people I suffer from anxiety, they seem quite shocked, but anybody who suffers from anxiety knows how good we are hiding it.
The world is so full of noise and chaos these days that I am surprised more people aren’t suffering from anxiety. From mobile phones, TV, the internet, ads, social media, the list goes on. It is easy to get overwhelmed.
The overwhelming feelings of persistent anxiety
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. However, 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 to 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 want to run. Sweaty palms, thumping heart and a dizzy and foggy head, the list of symptoms are endless. Doing seemingly basic tasks like queuing in a shop or coffee with a friend becomes hard and unbearable.
The first step in easing anxiety is talking about it. The more I talk about suffering from anxiety, the more people open up to me about their anxiety. Whether in the workplace or with friends, I have noticed that by saying “I feel anxious today” my anxiety symptoms ease quicker.
For years I would fight my anxiety symptoms. I would exhaust myself trying not to be anxious. I would wait to feel better. Nowadays, I accept I am feeling anxious or having a bad day. 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.
The importance of talking about Anxiety
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 go through a bad patch.
Nowadays, I love 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 a few years ago. After purchasing my home and moving in, I had a period of constant anxiety. Maybe it was the stress of it all, possibly the change, who knows? When I would come home from work feeling frazzled, I would sit on the couch watching TV and end up feeling worse. I didn’t have many hobbies at the time.
I got into DIY by chance, not knowing where to start 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 came home with random pieces of furniture and pots of paint. I noticed how my anxiety eased when I was using my creativity.
Although I was still struggling with anxiety, I noticed it began to ease. When I was at 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 creating 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. My best pieces of DIY work I have done when having a panic attack.
I am the sort of person that needs to get all my energy out when I feel anxious. Sitting on a couch and resting does not make me feel better. Using my creativity and moving eases the tense feelings of anxiety.
Focusing on painting a piece of furniture calms down my mind. So, I try and be mindful and focus on each brushstroke. Then I start getting excited about my project 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 of creating, I notice my anxiety ease. Even when my anxiety returns, at least I had them few anxiety-free hours where I was creative.
Over a few months, I noticed my anxiety eased as a result of my creativity. I still had bad days and weeks, but they were becoming less frequent. They also were not lasting as long as when I got engrossed in a project the anxiety eased quicker.
I had replaced fighting my anxiety by accepting it and distracting myself, and it was working. I would be accepting of the feelings of anxiety. So, I and would do something creative with my time until it passed.
Listen to your body and your intuition
Symptoms of anxiety can leave you feeling exhausted, mentally and physically. So, If you are feeling exhausted, maybe try a different craft that is less physical. Or, take a rest, if there is one thing 2020 thought me, it was to take a rest. Getting crafty can compliment talking therapy, mediation and other mindfulness practices.
So, the next time you’re feeling anxious maybe try picking up a paintbrush? Sewing also helps, and I know some ladies who love a good cross stitch session to ease anxious feelings.
What helps your anxiety? Have you used your creativity for easing your anxiety? 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, not be okay”. Thank you for reading, Chat soon, Catherine.