Just what the doctor ordered

There is quite a lot of evidence that engaging in creative activities improves health — mental and physical. Writing, drawing, painting, making crafts or music, even doodling and colouring in — they can all help to focus our thoughts, increase our happiness, boost our immune systems and even help treat dementia.

I’ve experienced periods of depression for most of my adult life. Of all the treatments I’ve tried, what seems to work best is making stuff; focusing my mind and hands and energy on some creative project, however small. At the moment, it’s Christmas cards.

I’m always a bit reluctant to recommend anything, especially for something as serious as mental health, but there is a significant body of research behind this — and it works for me.

Posted to Ragtag Daily Prompt | recommendation

32 thoughts on “Just what the doctor ordered

  1. When in truly difficult times of my life, what helped me most, was writing down my thoughts and feelings – writing letters and cards, doodles even around the addresses on the envelopes….. so it DOES seem to work!
    And see, YET, you seem so positive – and come across as someone who know what they are doing….. well, well…… if colouring, card DIY-ing, whatever, works for you – brilliant!
    I have a sister who is into colouring books – she has had operations at both hands and I would have thought that colouring pics would be the very last thing she’d choose to do – but hey – it helps her and thus who am I to ask questions!?! At one time of my life, I was SEWING birthday and Christmas cards, with little stuff and pics sewn under a plastic cover on a double card…. can’t imagine NOW that I did that!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I know what you mean about writing. I do keep a journal and find that helps me too. I worked as a copywriter for many years, and for a long time, writing was associated with my professional voice, and I lost my own. I’m getting it back, but I still find it difficult, and get the most joy from doing really visual things that don’t involve language.
      You’ve reminded me of those lovely sewn cards …. another idea to explore some time πŸ™‚

      Liked by 4 people

    • I remember reading your decoupage posts. I loved the eggs and got quite inspired.
      I do sometimes use the process in collage-making and (like you probably) collect interesting paper when I see it.
      There are so many cool processes and techniques to try; I overwhelm myself with all the ideas I have — and all the materials I’ve collected.
      At the moment I’m really enjoying making lino-prints and also playing with digital art using some of my photos.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I think that all that creativity exercises the right side of the brain which is very beneficial. I’m always elated after having created and new song or work of art. It’s great therapy Su and you have something to show for your time and effort.
    Leslie

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My thought is that creativity is a positive, building activity that counteracts the negativity of whatever appears on our mental horizon. Just me own thinking, but yes, many (more serious) studies show the benefits of focusing on creative endeavors.
    Will be chuffed to see your latest! 😘

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks πŸ™‚
      I got all carried away thinking I’d do some lino-prints, but I’m not totally happy with them so I’ve gone with some much simpler, pared back ideas. I did love the process of making linocuts though; and will revisit it for some other project. But I need to get the cards done before I miss the international postage date cut-off πŸ™‚

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Card making is fun. I am sure your cards will be wonderfully creative. It’s good when we can find ways to manage the ‘bad’ periods. So far, I haven’t hit my usual pre-Christmas slump…..fingers-crossed I can avoid it this year.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you. The good thing about cards is that I can experiment to my heart’s content and there is very little outlay in terms of materials, so I can literally afford to make mistakes.
      Christmas is never a good time for me. I think I was born to be the flour-dusted, pinny-wearing, celebration-organising matriarch of a huge family, but have ended up surrounded by people who couldn’t care less, and don’t like any fuss. Each year I scale my efforts back another notch in the face of a family dwindling in numbers if not apathy. This year, I’m seriously thinking of buying a bottle of good wine and a new book and spending Xmas day on the couch. πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You are right. To date, many metaanalyses, exploring the results of several scientific studies, have been conducted on the subject. Many of these studies conclude that exercise and art therapy are beneficial in the recovery of people with depression. It is as though the exercise reconnects the mind and body, and being creative values self-esteem and the instinctive need to create. Beautiful post Su.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much. I did see that there’s been metaanslysis. Wouldn’t it be great it doctors could hand out vouchers for art and creative writing classes alongside those for exercise classes and (or perhaps instead of) antidepressants.

      Liked by 2 people

      • It would be awesome indeed. But the medical training of psychiatrists is unfortunately more focused on medication than the combination of alternative methods that promote the well-being of individuals and contribute to the neurochemical balance of their brain. Personally, I think psychologists are more open about this.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. One of the most wonderful things about being part of this Community is to read the encouraging & inspiring stories of overcoming. So please continue to share what works for you – there will always be someone who needs it!

    Anyhoo, we are big fans of working with our hands in our household. So, I hear you!

    Like

  7. I hear you, Su. And I couldn’t agree more about the importance of creativity and art to keep our souls and hearts healthy. And then there’s also the beautiful aspect of your creations bringing joy to everyone who is lucky to know you. Your lovely card brings a smile to me whenever I look at it, as does your bag which is constantly used. 😍

    Like

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