for better mental health

Calligraphy eased my anxiety

Tuesday, 06 October 2020 Kejal

Kejal blogs about how the ancient art form taught her how to relax and transformed her life.

A few years ago, I decided to participate in a half-day calligraphy workshop, with no expectations beyond spending a relaxing afternoon doing some craft. Little did I know that not only would I have a calligraphy business a couple of years later, but I’d found a practice I loved that helped alleviate my constant anxieties and worries – all thanks to that one afternoon.

The thing about practising calligraphy is that you have no choice but to be present and mindful in the moment. That’s because, no matter how advanced you are, it’s a skill that requires you to slow down and focus on each letter stroke, one by one.

Focusing on each letter meant I didn’t have the capacity to think about my anxieties.

When I was a beginner, I remember whittling away hours practicing on the weekends and evenings. Back then, I worked in the fast-paced, media industry and it was hard finding something I enjoyed that was also relaxing. Calligraphy would help calm – and order - my thoughts amidst any chaos I was experiencing in that time. Focusing on each letter meant I didn’t have the capacity to think about my anxieties.

Almost a decade ago I was diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder, and whilst it’s definitely improved over the past few years, there’s no doubt that I face triggers in day-to-day life that can bring back anxious thoughts, for example, working and living in a pandemic. I treated practicing calligraphy as my art therapy, and it worked wonders for me. 

I teach modern calligraphy, which is about being expressive and showing your personality through your lettering. It's about letting go and being free from traditional calligraphy 'rules', and about truly bringing you back in the moment. I loved it from the minute I picked up the pen because it felt empowering and creative all in one, and it was a huge bonus knowing it was helping my mental health.

I gained the confidence and know-how to start my business Calligraphy by Kiki, helping brands and couples create calligraphy for their weddings and events. But my favourite part is teaching students at my calligraphy workshops, which have been online since lockdown. It has been so rewarding to help others find peace at home during an especially anxious time.

In lockdown it's become even more popular, as people look for crafts to help get them off their screens.

Over the past few years, calligraphy has sky rocketed in popularity because it's an analogue, creative practice in our digital-focused world. In times of lockdown it's become even more popular, as people look for crafts to help get them off their screens by investing in calligraphy kits to practice from the comfort of their own homes.

Flexing our creative muscles is proven to help improve and maintain good mental health and wellbeing. I would encourage those who are looking for a relaxing practice to try calligraphy out, as it’s both creative and therapeutic at the same time.

Last year, I got in touch with Mind to discuss a partnership as I wanted to share my passion with other people who suffered with a similar condition to me. I wanted to let them know there was something out there that they’d probably not considered that would really help them. I was proud to support the Pause for Mind initiative by creating a brush lettering starter kit for its subscribed donors, which I hope helped others discover this special craft.

Calligraphy is not just for the masters or pros. It’s a skill that anyone can learn with a bit of patience (and time!), it’s. Like any art form, it requires many hours of practice, which allow you to develop your own style. That weekly practice has become a ritual for me, allowing me to forget my worries.

Even if you don't have all the professional tools at home, you can try your hand at 'faux calligraphy', which you can create by simply using a felt tip pen or a pencil, filling in your downward strokes to create the desired effect.

I don’t know where I’d be today without calligraphy. It’s a joy spreading the love for an ancient-turned-modern practice.

I don’t know where I’d be today without calligraphy. It’s a joy spreading the love for an ancient-turned-modern practice that is not only a beautiful art form, but also a great way of switching off from our digital lives.

Read about Information and support

For World Mental Health Day this year, we’re encouraging everyone to do one thing for better mental health. Whether it’s turning your hand to something creative or trying something new, like Kejal did, or simply going for a mindful walk.

Visit our webpage for more inspiration and ideas to do one thing for your own wellbeing, or to help others this World Mental Health Day.

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Anxiety and panic attacks

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