January tends to be a pretty quiet time, a little pit stop for everyone while we recover from all the fun and celebrations that we’ve had over the festive period. But going straight into yet another lockdown means that the beginning of 2021 is going to be a lot quieter than usual.
And while the news of having to stay indoors yet again isn’t the start to the year we’d all been hoping for, using the time inside to your advantage is just one of the ways that we can boss what’s an especially bad case of the January blues.
Though it might be a bit hard to look on the bright side right now, there are a few different things we can do to boost our mood and stay positive during this unpredictable situation. Binge-watching Netflix has its benefits, but if you’re in the mood for something a bit more productive – or just fancy a break from the screen – then there are plenty of creative and crafty ideas you can do to pass the time and take your mind off the news.
Feel like getting creative? Give these activities a go and try something new while we’re in lockdown.
1. Mindfulness colouring books
Colouring books might sound like they’re for kids, but adult versions have been a big help in promoting a more mindful and calmer headspace lately. And with lockdown in effect again, adding splashes of colour to a blank page not only gives a break from all the bad news, but it can also create a greater sense of peace of quiet in our lives too.
Plus, with books on everything from high-brow architecture to pics of handsome film stars (think the likes of Gosling, Elba and Clooney) to dogs (aka everyone’s favourite purveyor of good vibes), what’s not to like?
What could be more tranquil than a spot of origami? The thought alone brings a sense of serenity. And since it requires nothing more than some paper, which we’re guessing you have, the barriers to entry are practically non-existent.
To help you get started, there are plenty of great tutorials on YouTube. In fact, there’s an entire channel by the name of Origami Tutorials, so you can start folding right away.
And with a history dating back hundreds of centuries, there’s a whole world of origami evolution to explore alongside the practical activities too!
Known as knitting’s easier, cheaper relative, crocheting is the process of using yarn or thread and a single hook of any size to make fabric, lace, garments and toys. If you’re skilled enough, you can even move up to fashion items too, like bags and tops.
Getting started with crocheting might be difficult, but if you know your way around knitting, crocheting is a little easier. But even if you’re a total newbie, there are loads of tutorials out there where you can learn to how to crochet like the pros.
4. Hama beading
Even if you’re not familiar with Hama beading, you’ve probably seen it before in some form. They’re the small (and recyclable) plastic hollow beads that melt together into a cute little piece of artwork when you iron them.
A bucket of beads costs around £14 and contains 10,000 of the things. You can buy template boards too, so you can follow existing designs (think things like dolphins, frogs and flowers), but you can make your own designs if you feel like improvising; just be sure to buy square or rectangle boards that are big enough.
Really, the only limits are your imagination. And remember: it’s about the process, not the product. Don’t forget that we’re trying to chill out, so don’t fret if the final result looks a bit dodgy.
If you’re looking to indulge your creative side and turn your brain off at the same time, then decoupage is for you. Tailor-made for those new to crafting, it simply involves layering pieces of tissue paper (though you can use paper, card or fabric too), and using glue to stick them together. Even if you’re not especially arty, letting your instincts take over can make some awesome effects.
Simply cut your pieces of tissue paper however you want, spread glue on some sort of backing, then place the cut-up tissue wherever you feel. Paste glue on top, then leave to dry. Now you can repeat the process however many times you fancy.
Can arts and crafts improve our mental health?
As well as letting us show off our creative side, there’s been plenty of research into the positive effects crafting can have on our mental health. Studies by University College London’s MARCH mental health network have shown that engaging with the visual arts can reduce anxiety, while daily creative activity has been linked to more positive psychological functioning, including improved memory, reasoning and resilience.
Alongside more traditional mental health treatments, art therapy is becoming increasingly common, helping to provide a release for those suffering from mental health problems. Art therapy has been shown to:
- Help process feelings
- Reduce stress and anxiety levels
- Increase self-esteem
- Help acknowledge subconscious feelings
- Create a sense of pride and confidence
- Aid with social connections (difficult at the minute, but still…)
In these restricted, isolated times, improving our mental health through creative activities is a great way of getting through what might be a difficult time for a lot of students. Whether you’re feeling sad, anxious, angry, or frustrated, showing off your arty side can help you express these thoughts and feelings without having to use words.
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