for better mental health

Crafternoons have kept me going

Friday, 17 July 2020 Paula

Paula does not just craft for the creativity, she does it to boost her mental health and raise money for Mind.

I've always found any creative activity to be therapeutic, and crafting is one of my go to activities to relieve stress, help lift my mood and keep me going during the difficult times.

I had been in a bit of a dip with my mental health since the end of last year and wasn't in a good place when lockdown started. It came at the worst possible time for me and just increased my negative thoughts, heightened my anxieties, and left me feeling increasingly alone and isolated.

I just couldn't see a way through. I needed to find things to help me escape from everything that was going on. I was determined to keep fit, and getting outside running and walking, and particularly spending time appreciating the nature around us, was one something that I found really helpful. I also immersed myself in all sorts of creative activities - baking, singing with the Great British Home Chorus, and of course crafting.

I had a go at doing some drawing. I decided to share it on Facebook. I couldn't believe the positive reaction.

I also had a go at doing some drawing. I wasn’t particularly impressed with the result, but after some good feedback from my parents I decided to share it on Facebook. I couldn't believe the positive reaction so I did some more. I’ve found it incredibly therapeutic. Many of my friends were saying how much they enjoyed seeing my pictures amongst all the negative news. The fact that my creativity was also helping others inspired me to keep it up.

Over the last few months I've done paper marbling, origami, decoupage, jewellery-making, and have finally taught myself to crochet – something that I've been meaning to do for years, but never quite got round to. One of the benefits of lockdown has been having much more time to be creative. It's hard to explain, but crafting is a form of escapism, taking me away from my negative thoughts, emotions or worries, and enabling me to focus on something much more constructive.

Sometimes, particularly when you’re depressed, finding the motivation to get going with anything can be a challenge, but I always try to push myself because, once I’m doing something creative, I will always feel better. It’s also really rewarding when you achieve something, particularly when you master a new skill. Small positives can make such a big difference. I’ve made cards and gifts for other people, and it’s always satisfying when someone appreciates something you’ve made. Crafting has definitely helped me get through the really tough times and helped me get to a much more positive place.

Crafternoon has been one way for me to share my creativity with others. I originally got involved with it almost by accident. I had been discussing with a colleague what sort of things we could do at work to help with wellbeing. As I have always found crafting to be very beneficial to my own mental health, I wondered whether there was anything I could do along these lines. At around the same time I saw something from Hobbycraft about a Crafternoon for Mind that was coming up in my local store.

What better than giving people an activity to boost their own mental health, whilst raising money?

I hadn’t heard of Crafternoon, so I did some investigating and thought that would be a perfect wellbeing project for work. What better than giving people an activity to boost their own mental health, whilst raising money to provide help and support for others who are struggling with theirs? I hosted my first Christmas Crafternoons in 2017 at two of our sites, and I have since done another three sets of Crafternoons, both for Christmas and spring, so eight in total. They are really popular and I normally get 15 - 20 people coming along to each. 

The first virtual crafternoon from Mind came at just the right time for me, giving me something to look forward to in the first few grim weeks of lockdown. It provided me with the opportunity to get creative, and also to craft along with other like-minded people, which was just what I needed at a time when I was feeling incredibly alone and isolated.

After taking part in a couple of the Mind Virtual Crafternoons, I wondered whether to have a go at hosting my own, and decided to give it a go. These haven't been as popular as the face to face sessions, but the online environment has given me the opportunity to invite a wider range of people and, as well as colleagues, I've had old school friends attending with their children, and friends overseas, who wouldn't normally get the opportunity. Although the numbers have been small, those that have come along seem to have really enjoyed them, and everyone has been able to chat together while they’re crafting.

I find hosting the Crafternoons as positive for my mental health as the crafting itself.

I find hosting the Crafternoons as positive for my mental health as the crafting itself. Although they can be hard work, I always find it’s good for me to have a focus and something to work towards. It's also extremely gratifying when people are having fun getting creative, often meeting and chatting to new people, and going away with their own little creations and a sense of satisfaction and achievement. That makes it all very worthwhile. Doing something that makes other people happy has a positive effect on my own mental health, and of course, it's always great to be able to raise money at the same time.

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