"Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change" - Brené Brown
About a year ago I started delivering songwriting workshops, firstly to older people who were isolated, then to adults with mental health needs, and finally to groups of volunteers and carers in the community.
The idea was to test out whether my method of group songwriting had positive mental health benefits and whether it could be developed and promoted as a tool for wellbeing.
The feedback was amazing. After every single session I was in tears – both from the emotion within the group and their openness to share memories and experiences, but also out of pure relief and satisfaction that this idea I’d had was actually working.
"To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow.
So do it" - Kurt Vonnegut
When the pandemic hit the only way forward was for the workshops to continue online, and I was fortunate to be invited to work with a number of community groups to offer songwriting sessions for people to follow along with from home.
As a result of this I was recently asked to be part of the Huddersfield Literature Festival ‘Creative Voices’ project, from which we’ll produce songs written and inspired by the experiences of people within the town over the last few months, particularly those struggling with mental health or who have found the situation very tough.
The workshops and partnership working has all formed the basis for what has become
The Creative Map CIC – a social enterprise through which we design and deliver creative tools for growth, wellbeing and happiness.
I’ve recently started to work with clients on a 1-1 basis, encouraging them to try creative activities to help them reconnect with themselves, find their purpose and move forward towards their goals.
These activities may include creating a vision board, gratitude journaling or listening to uplifting music. You can find out more about our workshops, online course and creative coaching here.
Here are 5 Reasons To Get Creative This World Mental Health Day
This is creativity for wellbeing. It's all about self-care. It doesn’t have anything to do with whether you believe you have any talent or not, if you have any musical ability, or what your High School Art teacher told you. This is about having a go and having fun.
You are naturally creative – everyone is. It’s only our fear of not being good enough that tells us otherwise. So enjoy it.
Engaging in creative activities contributes to an 'upward spiral' of positive emotions, psychological well-being and feelings of 'flourishing' in life. (Journal of Positive Psychology)
Doing something that is enjoyable and repetitive, but that doesn't take much mental power, like colouring, knitting, digging the flower beds, is proven to reduce anxiety and improve your mood - all thanks to the little hit of dopamine it produces.
Expressing your thoughts, through words, music or art, can help you to process those thoughts and the associated emotions. Journaling has become a popular self-help habit, and for good reason, but expressing those feelings in whatever way feels natural to you will help your mind to process them.
Please feel free to tag us in any of your creations you share on social media using @thecreativemapcic
"You can't use up creativity. The more you use the more you have." -- Maya Angelou
So on this World Mental Health Day I invite you to treat yourself to 30 minutes of creativity:
Paint, draw or colour in
Listen to music or dance to your favourite song
Write down ten things that you’re grateful for
Take some photos in nature
Decorate a cake or arrange some flowers
Then encourage your friends and family to do the same. As Albert Einstein said:
"Creativity is contagious, pass it on"