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"Being creative can be a great way to use mindfulness without us even realising it."

Wellbeing Advisor Claudia shares how she is using art to help her cope with depression and feeling isolated from friends and family during the winter lockdown.

My name is Claudia, I usually work in Portsmouth but at the moment I am in Cambridgeshire, due to not being able to travel back after Christmas. Of course, I love spending time with my family, but I miss being around my friends and my partner. Feeling so isolated from them has made my depression more difficult to deal with. I often find myself losing concentration and motivation and worrying about things.

Since the second lockdown in November, I have been trying to occupy my mind with art. I really enjoy painting and sketching, and for me it's a really good way to switch off from everything else and just focus on something productive. I started off small, focusing on other things I liked, like video games and began to sketch stuff from them. I now really love painting landscapes and because it occupies so much time and thought, I think it's a great way to manage those low moods I get.

Being creative can be a great way to use mindfulness without us even realising it. If you concentrating on the here and now, you're already doing something really positive to manage your mental health. Have a look at these arty projects that might help:

Visually map out your worries on paper, using colours, shapes, arrows and key words. Expressing yourself creatively can help you make sense of complicated thoughts that may be difficult to explain verbally.

Design the front of a postcard you will never send. If you are angry or upset with someone, or maybe grieving for someone, get it all out by creating a postcard that you can keep to yourself.

Visualise your goals and aims. Paint a mountain and add in the steps you need to take to achieve something you really want, which sits atop the mountain. Breaking down our aspirations into smaller chunks can make them feel more management.

Design a journal. Journals don’t have to be wordy! You could keep an art journal, a bullet journal or a simple mood tracker. Regularly recording our feelings can help us see trends and themes that can help us understand ourselves a bit better."

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