Like many other people, the year in lockdown put and enormous strain on my mental health. In order to try and find some sanity and serenity amid the chaos, I did three things:
- Started keyboard lessons (online)
- Joined a creative writing course: writing for the hell of it (online)
- Joined an art class: Art for well being (online)
All three of these things have had a profound effect on my mental health. Firstly, learning the keyboard at almost 40 proved a lot harder than I imagined. I thought by now I’d be doing renditions of Beethoven; turns out I’m still on tick tack toe. But, the concentration it takes to learn that kind of skill is all consuming and doesn’t allow for thoughts of Covid and the outside world. It has been a wholly rewarding pursuit and I hope to progress to Jingle bells any day soon. Luckily I found a very patient teacher.
The second thing: the creative writing course, helped me get back into writing after a long hiatus. And the writing for the hell of it part was just what I needed. I’ve always put too much pressure on myself to produce something that I lost some of the enjoyment of the process along the way. But this course with Adam Z Robinson have thoughtful tasks, delivered with good humour and a sense of fun. It was so nice to rediscover the pure pleasure of writing for no reason at all.
Lastly was the art course. It is especially designed with mental health in mind. I’ve never done anything remotely artistic before and felt really nervous with this one. I needn’t have as the friendly and supportive group made me feel so at ease, it felt like I’d been doing it forever. Nothing was wrong and for those two hours a week, I thought about nothing other than the piece I was working on.
I am thankful for all the wonderful and creative people involved in these courses because they have given me so much support during a really hard time. Creativity, for me, is the key to better mental well-being.