Give yourself a present today

To mark World Mental Health Day the Senior Administrator for the Community Rehabilitation Service, Rachel Mansi, shares a personal blog about the importance of creativity.

You don’t have to be an artist to be creative; wrapping a gift, writing a letter, baking a cake, planting a seed, all of these activities and more are acts of creativity. We put a bit of ourselves into them, and we get out of them a sense of connection, to our deeper self and to the world around us.

I’ve always been anxious, and I’ve always loved making things. For me, colour and pattern are a source of real happiness. The more I focus on making things purely for the joy of it, the less attention I give to my inner critic. The most important thing is to focus on the act of making – the process itself – rather than worrying about the end result.

When conditions are right, I can enter a state of ‘flow’ when I’m making. I’m not noticing how much time is passing, and I’m certainly not thinking about my to-do list. When I give myself time to be creative, my mind finds a more peaceful pace, and becomes a calmer space. My attention isn’t in the past or the future, it’s right there in the moment that I’m actually in – it’s in the stitch I’m making, and the next stitch, and then the next. This is mindfulness in action. A regular hour or so of this kind of focused attention has a big impact on my wellbeing, leaving me feeling more grounded, calm and relaxed.

Being creative is also a wonderful way to form connections with others and the wider world. There are lots of art groups, workshops and courses where you can learn new skills, and meet new people. Inspiration for our art can come from within, but also from taking notice of what we see and hear around us every day. Art can bring the Five Ways to Wellbeing – Learning, Giving, Connecting, Taking Notice and Being Active – into our daily lives, and can make a huge difference to our mental and emotional wellbeing.

So for this year’s World Mental Health Day, give yourself a present. It doesn’t need to cost anything, apart from a bit of your time. Make a meal, draw a picture, write a poem. Give yourself time to play, and create something, just for the joy of doing it.

‘The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.’ Kurt Vonnegut

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