Life&Style Writer Niamh Nicholls explains how art, writing and creativity can be beneficial for helping us make it through life in lockdown

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Lately, it seems the days have all been blurring into one. Our days most likely consist of watching Netflix, napping, snacking, then watching Netflix again until 2am. We suddenly have all the time in the world, with little to do and no one to see, and this can get us down at times. Instead of being glued to a screen of some sort, we should take advantage of this time to be more creative. Whether it’s writing, drawing, painting or designing, we should all dedicate some time to being more creative – our mental health will thank us. Studies have found that taking part in creative activities can help lower stress, relax our muscles, increase self-esteem and productivity.

Writing (pen to paper)

Whether we write in a journal or write a short story, any form of writing can help improve our mental health. When we are stressed, we produce a stress hormone called cortisol, which, in the long run, can cause us to have serious health problems. A study from the British Journal of Health Psychology showed how writing about a traumatic experience helped lower peoples production of cortisol.

Expressive writing has been shown to help us overcome trauma and manage our negative emotions. By writing down negative experiences that are taking place in our lives, incorporating them into our life’s story, we are able to make sense of these experiences and find meaning in them. Similarity, writing in a journal is found to help improve sleep, mood and to overcome traumatic experiences.

Reading

Reading can help improve our mental health as it focuses our attention away from the stress in our lives. It can be a chance to get away from stressful times and it can also help make sense of a challenging time in our lives. When we read poetry, for example, it helps us connect our own experiences with what we read. Reading can, therefore, navigate our emotions and help us feel less isolated.

Art

Similar to reading, making art provides a distraction, giving us a break from everything that goes on in our heads. Adult colouring books are a popular form of art, which help relieve stress and give us an opportunity to divert attention away from everyday life.

Creative tasks overall help us to relax and feel more productive. By doing something a different creative task every day, we feel more accomplished compared to sticking to the same routine of watching TV every day. By incorporating our stresses and trauma into creative tasks, we are able to take control and make sense of what is taking place in our lives.

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