Arts takes mindfulness — creatively cleansing stress



Arts writers share how they use creative activities to destress, declutter and unwind ahead of a stressful deadline and exam season.

Knitting: Jeanette Moon (1st year, Economics)

Some people find themselves in Southeast Asia, some people don’t find themselves at all. I was lucky enough, however, to embark on a journey of self discovery whilst bed bound following an operation on my knee. A confession - I am hopelessly, ridiculously and wholeheartedly addicted to knitting.

Photo by Imani / Unsplash

The clicking of the needles, the way the wool wraps neatly around my fingers and the excitement of watching my masterpiece grow row by row. It’s the perfect way to relax and have some me time - partly because I am yet to find someone else of a similar age that shares this passion. I once had withdrawal symptoms from Lizard Lounge, but now my mind is constantly occupied by needles, knitting and purling.

Colouring: Keavy Keller (2nd year Theatre and Performance Studies)

It’s been a long day. St. Michael’s Hill was that bit steeper today. The ASS was that bit more crowded. And the walk to Redlands felt like miles. So what do you do?

You shut the door on your housemates, fall at your desk, put on some music or your favourite serial killer or conspiracy documentary and pull out a colouring book. The one you’ve been working on for two years. The well-used colouring pencils your aunt bought you are a comfort in your hand as you start to shade the tree, the elephant, the geometric sunflower and you can finally rest.

Card craft: Ritu Patel (2nd year, Chemistry)

At our age giving cards is not something many people do but I find the process quite heart-warming. For me, taking the time to hand draw or paint a card is very relaxing as it involves a creative type of concentration that can be therapeutic.

Photo by / Unsplash

Cards don’t need to be over complicated to be effective so the actual process doesn’t have to be hard; you can just zone out and relax. When people receive cards that you have hand-made they really appreciate the gesture, too. I would highly recommend it to all.

Collage: Anna Trafford (2nd year English)

When I was younger I used to be obsessed with glossy magazines. I loved the satisfying feel of the fat spine of an ELLE, Red or Tatler, the whisper of the crisp pages as you turn them, the smell of the ink, and the bold colours leaping out at you from the page.

There is nothing more therapeutic than becoming totally and utterly absorbed in an activity like cutting and sticking

The carefully considered aesthetic of these high-fashion mags appealed to me; I wanted to reach out and take all the most beautiful elements of these pages, the images that made me stop and look, and to make them into something of my own. And that’s how I came to start making collages.

I used to pilfer my mother’s discarded collection of magazines looking for resources. I would scour the pages for the prettiest pictures, the eye-catching quotes and the colours that would complement the project in hand, engrossed for hours at a time. There is nothing more therapeutic than becoming totally and utterly absorbed in an activity like cutting and sticking, where you don’t have to think. All you need to do is listen to your creative instincts in deciding which pictures belong together.

Sewing: Alina Young (2nd year English)

Being a proud 5’2”, getting into sewing was at first a very practical hobby: all shop-bought trousers or skirts dwarf my legs, and it would cost a fortune to take-up a whole wardrobe. Slashing seams and resewing them was a satisfying solution, as I could make clothes (finally!) fit exactly how I wanted.

[Sewing] combines working with your hands with problem-solving skills, as each garment requires you to improvise with the material.

Although my first attempts led to wobbly seams, dodgily cut shapes and frankly ruined clothes, the successes of some items encouraged me to continue practising and eventually honing my skills. Now, getting clothes that inevitably don’t fit just fills me with excitement- I get the chance to make a bespoke piece of clothing, by doing something I love.

Photo by Dinh Pham / Unsplash

What I love most about sewing is that the immense concentration it takes not to screw it up makes the process meditative- my mind is totally occupied by the task. It combines working with your hands with problem-solving skills, as each garment requires you to improvise with the material. It’s also incredibly creative: I start with one garment, and make endless design decisions of how I want it to hang, or how I want something to change.

While stressed, sewing is a perfect activity. You completely forget other pressures, and can spend hours in that idyllic state of flow. Best of all, you can physically wear your creation, meaning that you reap the rewards of your efforts time and again.

How do you use creativity to help you de-stress? Let us know in the comments below or on social media

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