We all are feeling stressed and anxious as Ireland tries to contain further spread of the coronavirus. It stands to reason we might need an extra hand trying to keep calm. We've reported many times on the positive after-effects of mindfulness (simply being present) and simple craft making can benefit your mental health. It's been proven as an aid to those struggling with depression and linked to relieving stress while boosting focus and even relationship satisfaction.
But if you're not keen on the art of mindful meditation on its own (it's a skill and can be tricky to grasp right away), you can go down another route by using specific activities or techniques that are just as effective (and handy as you spend more time indoors). It's become known as the 'Hobby Humblebrag' on social media; going back to basics and proudly showing off our appreciation for simpler activities from arts and crafts, to knitting, puzzle-making, banana bread-baking and all the things we said we simply never had time for pre-pandemic. Here is five you can get started with straight away.
This is all about using colouring as a relaxation tool. Through colouring, you can focus your mind on one small task at a time, whether that is shading an area, or losing yourself in the finer details. While this is by no means a cure for stress or anxiety, it can be another weapon to add to your arsenal, calming and centring your mind. There is an array of adult colouring books now available, solely designed for this purpose.
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One of the most underrated of skills, my Instagram feed has quite literally been lit up with incredible miniature works of art. Time and patience are needed, both of which we have much of due to the pandemic. Grab your needles and threads, sit back in the sunshine and begin. There's plenty of free patterns available online but Etsy has some of the nicest I've seen so far. Also, the Instagram account above has some truly breathtaking examples.
If you've been meaning to take up a creative pursuit, there's never been a better time; studies have shown that crafting lowers stress levels and increases happiness. From patchwork to knitting or flower arranging, these crafts enable you to focus on the task at hand, tuning out the world around you and creating something you can be proud of. It's a truly enjoyable form of mindfulness.
This is all about folding pretty paper. Origami might have originated 1,500 years ago, but experts are now saying the ancient paper technique has very modern mental health benefits that include increasing concentration and encouraging positivity. In many ways, it's a natural progression from adult colouring books, but the difference is that with origami you are actually creating a piece of art and not just filling in someone else's drawing. And you can do it anywhere.
The joy of a simple walk
And if you are feeling antsy from doing any kind of activity, some might find a newfound hobby of sorts in just going outside to walk every single day. We may be limited as to how far we can go, but there are signs that summer is almost here: clear blue skies, fresh air, the smell of cut grass and plenty of flowers in bloom. There is no destination in mind when it comes to walking. and it's best to avoid tight time restrictions or deadlines. This is simply strolling mindfully, noticing the environment around you, allowing thoughts to flow in and out of your mind. For your 2km walk, it's all about seeing the here and now, until we can venture out further.
Main photograph: @nyang_stitch
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