World Mental Health Day Creativity for Wellbeing

This week in the run up to World Mental Health Day 10th October 2023, we’re sharing about our Designs in Mind members, artistic achievements and the benefits of creativity.

We are also inviting you, our readers, to carve out some time to get creative, even it’s just a simple doodle or sketch.

Taking time out to have fun with a simple piece of paper and pen. Even on the back of an envelope will suffice, grab anything you’ve got to hand and sketch or doodle away.

Know that perfection isn’t the point of art.

Art is about creating your own individual representation of something you see or imagine, it isn’t meant to be exact and creativity is meant to be fun.

There are multiple benefits that creativity offers to mental health, such as

• Relaxation

• Feeling present

• Sense of achievement

• Reduce stress

• Reduce anxieties

• Reduce depression

• Access mindfulness

• Create calm feelings

• Improves the function of our immune system

• Creative activities stimulate the production of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals.

Being creative puts our minds in a flow state, meaning we find ourselves focused with optimal attention on the task in hand. This can also be referred to as “being in the zone”. When we are in this zone, we can feel uplifted as we relax into a mindful state of being.

I’ve experienced so many wonderful new creative skills in the 18 months I’ve been a member, with Designs in Mind. I can definitely recall finding my flow and being in the zone throughout!

One of my proudest moments was making sheets of paper. I enjoyed this process as my Dad, who passed away when I was just 26, was a Papermaker by trade. During the process, I thought a lot about my Dad, it sparked some happy memories. The whole process made me feel that he would be proud of me for creating sheets of paper, it was like I was hounouring him.

When my paper was hanging up in the studio to dry, I thought about the statue of Wilfred Owen in Cae Glas Park, as there are sheets of paper with Wilfred’s poems on them. On my way home from the studio, I took a picture of one of the poems. The following week I collected my sheet of paper from the studio, took it home and filled out the words of Wilfred Owen’s poem.

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It felt really lovely to follow in my father’s footsteps and honour a local poet. Its only fairly recent that Ive moved to Oswestry. Since starting a whole new life, in a new County I began to write and publish my own poetry, via the online platform Medium. The paper making process really raised my well-being, as it made me think how apt it is being a writer when I’m a papermakers daughter!

I asked other members to share their experiences on how creativity helps there mentalhealthchallenges:“Over the years I have many creations I’m proud of. Too many to choose! Recently in the studio we have been working on 3D sculptures. I used foil, wire, masking tape, filler, varnish and paint pens to create a cat.

Im very fond of cats!

This sculpture was a lot of fun to create. I have been modeling sculptures since I was 5years old.

When what your working on comes to actually be the way you want it is very satisfying!

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Although painting the cat was going to be a challenge, so I chose to take it home to work on and use my rock painting acrylic pens and spray varnish. I had a cat from tradecraft, painted in a Mexican style. I chose to model the design on that for my inspiration. It was really theraputic working on it, as it came to life. You could say it was like practising mindfulness too. I also really enjoyed making the sculpture while amongst the other members in the studio, seeing their designs come to life too. Its a great feeling to feel proud of something I’ve created. Im looking forward to it being part of the shops window display and if it gets chosen as an image for any products like the cards we sell in our shop. Jenny B

Another member shared:

“A few weeks ago we did a piece of work on ‘narratives’. This involved utilising a piece of art we chose from magazines as a focus to inspire the rest of the piece. As soon as I saw the image I chose I was excited by the black and white blocks and knew I could add to them, using my favourite art process, Zentangles.

Zentangles are a series of repetitive patterns (tangles) which are traditionally done on small pieces of paper say 3″ by 3″ and usually in one main colour, I like to use black. There are no mistakes in this type of art form as anything goes and they have been shown to induce ‘zen’ like relaxation and meditative states. I’ve actually been known to nod off doing them and often dream up new patterns!

Once I started my ‘narrative’ piece it dawned on me that a) there was a heck of a lot of paper to cover (A4 was my usual biggest size) and b) I’d never done a piece inspired by a specific image before. This threw me as the point of zentangle is that there is no planning, they just happen. I felt paralysed. Having taken the piece home to work on, I rolled it up and hid it!

Due to my ASD, I struggle to think out of the box, so this piece really taxed me and that’s why I’m so proud of it. It taught me how to link my tangles without losing the fun and relaxation of tangling. Every piece of tangle I came up with you will find inspired by an object within the center image, eyes, feet, squares, curls, twists, and more.

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I’m always proud of my tangles, sometimes I think they’re clumsy looking but after a bit of shading or adding a new pattern, they soon start to come alive.

This one really challenged me, however it’s gone on to inspire more creative thinking and boosted my confidence in my artwork, especially from the lovely comments I’ve received from people who have seen it. It’s also given me the confidence to do larger ones and reminded me not to give up doing something I love!” Nicki

Another member wrote:

“When I am at Designs in Mind I often become totally absorbed in what I’m doing. It’s such a pleasure to be able to try out different techniques and use different media.

Sometimes I create something I really like, at other times it doesn’t turn out quite how I expected. Either way, I’ve had the opportunity to express myself artistically and each time, I’m learning something new. However, it is not primarily the art that supports my well-being but the other members, staff and volunteers.

What stands out is that everyone is so kind and welcoming. The gentle camaraderie and acceptance is what I value most!

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This is one of my favourite pieces of work. It’s a cut paper collage inspired by the picture of the boat on the right. I like it because it is very simple but quite effective.” Anonymous

Thanks to all the members who participated, by taking time out to chose a favourite creation piece and sharing the process in words and pictures for our World Mental Health Day blog.

It’s fabulous to hear about how favourite pieces have made our members feel. It shows so clearly how art and creativity is good for our mental health, our wellbeing and creates memories, states of inner calmess, challenges us to try new things and brings a great sense of achievement.

We hope we encouraged you, our readers to pick up.a pen or pencil and get your creative juices flowing.

Blog Written & researched by Willow, Member & Social Media Coordinator