Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

The importance of being creative during bleak times

On around my fourth day of self-isolation, I had a small personal revelation. I was already sick of switching between three apps on my phone, my essay motivation was non-existent and the highlight of my day was choosing which hoodie and joggers combo I would sport. Suffice to say, I was bored. However, with all the free time I now had on my hands, I realised that I finally had the chance to try all the creative pursuits I have ever wanted to give a go.

As a result, I’ve taken it upon myself to try and do one creative thing every single day, and I couldn’t recommend the tactic more.

When I was younger, I went through various short-lived craft phases. Sewing, knitting, watercolour painting – I had tried them all and quickly given up when I realised I had to actually practice in order to be good enough to produce anything of quality. Since then, I’ve made a personal pact to be less self-critical and with the memory of how much I enjoyed the crafts in the short time I committed to them in mind, I decided to give them another go.

It’s something I’ve always admired and wished I could do

Various creative crazes are filling social media at the minute, the most popular of which seems to be baking. I baked regularly even before self-isolation season (as my fellow ex-Boar exec members would attest to) but it’s something anyone can give a go as long as you have some basic essentials in the cupboard. Given that basic essentials are all we can go out to find now, you have no excuse.

Some of the simplest, most fool-proof recipes you can spend your time whipping up include cookies, muffins and, the current Twitter favourite, banana bread. As well as the satisfaction of watching your creation rise in the oven and documenting it for your Instagram story, your quarantine companions are bound to appreciate the treats.

A skill I’m trying particularly hard to cultivate while I have the time is watercolour painting. It’s something I’ve always admired and wished I could do when I saw the beautiful paintings others were capable of. Since gaining all this free time, I’ve really enjoyed giving a go and found that with just a little bit of practice I picked up the basics quickly. Spending a bit of quiet time with some soft music and a candle burning as you concentrate on a painting is a lovely way to spend an afternoon.

Getting creative is a great way to keep your brain engaged

When I’m feeling like doing something with a bit more energy, my go-to pastime of choice is learning my favourite songs on my beloved little ukulele. Playing the ukulele is a hobby I only started at the end of December but I’ve already noticed that my skills have improved a lot since then, which is a great feeling. Teaching myself an upbeat, summery song when the sun is filtering through my bedroom window or opting for a more sombre tune when the skies are gloomier is always a time that I enjoy.

Cultivating a skill that you won’t be assessed on in any way is a great way to put aside time to enjoy something you don’t feel pressured to be good at.

Given that we’re all sick of seeing the same four walls around us and a Tesco trip is an exciting event, there’s no better opportunity to try all the hobbies you’ve ever wished you had. You may find that some things aren’t quite your strong suit (I’m still working on making my attempts at embroidery recognisable) but now more than ever – it’s vital to set aside time to do things that aren’t necessarily in aid of your degree so you don’t burn out.

Creativity is mostly about experimentation and crucially about expressing yourself

Getting creative is a great way to keep your brain engaged and give yourself a break from essays and assignments, even if it doesn’t abide by the strict academic routine of the ‘productivity preachers’ on social media.

The most important thing I’ve learned is not to worry too much about actually being great at whatever you try your hand at, especially the first couple of times you try it. Creativity is mostly about experimentation and crucially about expressing yourself.

While it’s great to find something you realise you have a natural talent for, just remember that there’s no right or wrong way to be creative as long as you enjoy it, and above all else, your free time should be spent on something that makes you happy in these bleak times.  

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