Depression and anxiety have begun to creep up on many of us and it can manifest itself in several ways. For example, you may start to have a lack of interest in your usual hobbies, an increase in snacking or drinking, general irritability, and excessive buying (beyond the hoarding of toilet paper). The list goes on. At the time I write this post some of us have been social distancing for 31 days. That’s a month of spouses and friends being laid off, relatives getting COVID-19, our transitioning to working from home, and helping our children with distance learning.
At The Get Smart Group, a lot of our clients decided to adapt to the challenges that sheltering in place orders brought to their businesses and community by launching e-commerce stores on their sites, offering free delivery of products and changing up their messaging. We continue to help our clients become agile in response to these uncertain times. But it’s not been easy. Not for any of us.
A Spark of Inspiration
My stress level has been higher these past few weeks but when my co-worker, Linda, shared a post on her page, I began to feel the spark of inspiration. Linda’s friend and artist, Lona Powell, started sharing her watercolor sketch journal on Facebook during her COVID-19 quarantine. Lona’s daily journal kindled my love of watercolor and encouraged me to pick up my paints to channel my anxiety into playful creativity.
Turns out the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, published a paper in 2016 titled “Reduction of Cortisol Levels and Participants’ Responses Following Art Making.” In this article, the authors discovered that 45 minutes of creative activity significantly lessens stress in the body, regardless of artistic experience or talent. Seventy-five percent of the participants in the study displayed lower levels of cortisol after they spent time creating.
There are lots of ways to get creative right now, and it’s even more fun if you can share the activity with a child. The following suggestions are kid-tested, approved, and come highly recommended by my eight-year-old daughter.
- Make a collage with old magazines. Cut out the colors and images that give you joy. Paste them with a glue stick to some colored paper and dazzle your family with your masterpiece.
- Coloring books are available on just about any subject for both adults and kids. (I am not ashamed to say that I have one that is exclusively about snack foods.)
- Art For Kids Hub is my favorite YouTube channel to watch with my daughter. They offer a variety of sketches for different ages and take you step-by-step through the drawing process. All you need is a pen and some paper to draw elves, flowers, doughnuts, monsters, and more!
- Tie-Dye kits are inexpensive and come with everything you need for easy cleanup. You don’t even need to buy clothing to dye, more than likely you have items at home that could use a little reinvention. (The disposable gloves that come in the kit are not optional. You will want to wear them.)
- Shrinky Dinks come in kits or plain sheets of plastic. With a handful of colored Sharpies, you and your little can come up with simple designs that shrink down into fun shapes after a few minutes in the oven. Check out this YouTube video for the materials you will need to make DIY pins.
- Start a daily journal and doodle, sketch or sculpt words into poetry. There are a lot of different types of creative journals on the market. Wreck this journal is a fun one for kids because each page prompts out of the box, thinking about how to create and be a little reckless at the same time. Create This Book is a series of journals that prompt you with open-ended suggestions that any age can handle. Tackle a page each day, date the page, and watch your journal come to life.
Ease your Stress
Ease the stress out of your life with some simple, fun, and easy projects. Don’t stress over your level of ability or even how the final product ends up. (Trust me, disasters happen.) The point is to get yourself into a different mood, challenge yourself to make something all your own, and feel more in control of your situation. How are you bringing more creativity into your life?