By Suki Baynton (the friendly face of our customer services team)
It has been a strange few months across the globe and with the latest news from the government encouraging everyone to stay at home and social distance, with many advised to completely self-isolate for months, things will only start to feel even more peculiar. If you’re feeling a little worried, or overwhelmed at this prospect, you won’t be the only one. Here at CraftCourses, we have a few crafty tricks up our sleeves to beat the doom and gloom in a bid to uplift our mental health and positivity.
Now, don’t worry, I am not about to tell you to eat healthily, drink plenty of water and try to get a little stretching or low-key exercise in; we will leave that to the professionals... Plus, chocolate and whisky as alternative medicines are well tested in my house.
What we’re thinking about right now is positive distractions for you and your family; from mini gardens to felt landscapes, from wooden spoons to hand-built bowls, from jewellery keepsakes to beautifully written letters;
We’ve got you covered.
Frankly, it’s also a great excuse to get those craft supplies out and give that self-satisfied look to our significant others that yes, we did indeed need those extra pens, paints, books, balls of wool, magazines, fancy paper, fancy notebooks, fancy fabrics… you get my drift...
… we told them so.
Never enough wool
Put that kettle on
We're not self-isolating... we're cocooning ?
Now, as a practicing antisocial so-and-so, I have been successfully self-isolating since my teens, I’m a bit of a pro at it. So, when the news broke; although the nation looked around in concern, some of us were prepped.
I rolled up my sleeves, cancelled those plans, popped the kettle on, lit the fire and sent an imaginary fist-bump to my fellow introverts. It’s time to help others find their way through this.
To anyone out there with mental health struggles like me (that will no doubt be lots of you), I'm sure you’ll agree even the phrase ‘self-isolate’ feels concerning. The WI announced this week they're now referring to this stay at home period as ‘cocooning,’ protecting yourself and your loved ones and getting a little extra TLC when we need it most. Now doesn’t that make you feel a tiny bit better?
So, as part of cocooning, we need to keep:
So, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of how we do this. We’ve got online help and we’ve got offline help, so let’s do this.
Our phones, computers and fancy tablets will be an important lifeline during isolation, but with it comes the sometimes very negative impact of media and news. So, you need to focus on positive use of your online time and yes, a bit of time away from that screen.
Focus on positive use of your online time
Limit your scrolling
Did you know you can mute key words on some social media channels? I find that when I am scrolling, if I see a word that triggers my anxiety, let’s face it, that’s currently the “C” word, I will stop and read it. Every time.
I want to be abreast of the current situation, without reading scaremongering or fake news, but my anxious brain doesn’t distinguish, and it cannot escape at the moment. So, I have muted those words on my social media and instead, I have scheduled two fact checks a day.
At 10am and at 6pm, I will check factual sources like UK government guidance and NHS guidance for any updates I need to be aware of.
That way, I limit my chances of seeing yet another repeated scene of empty toilet roll shelves or shop queues, that may or may not be real; but I also feel like I understand the current situation and I am not missing key actions that I should be taking.
Instead of using those expensive gadgets to worry ourselves, let’s use them for good! In addition to contact with your family and friends, there is a whole world of entertaining, knowledge sharing, inspiration finding, hobby indulging fun out there and you don’t even need to leave the house!
Online and distance learning
As crafting has been linked to helping your brain relax, it is also reported that the creative high of actually making something with your hands, signals your body to naturally release dopamine, the "feel-good chemical" our body produces to make us happy.
So, although we might be a little bit restricted with where we can go outside, we can still maintain dexterity, mental stimulation, social interaction and learn something new, by trying an online course.
Modern calligraphy by Gloryletteringstudio
Did you know we have a brand-new course section to browse?
Our new online and distance learning section covers prepared online courses and LIVE online tuition straight to your home!
You can choose from a huge variety already and it is growing day by day as our wonderful tutors react to the needs of students and adapt their courses for you at this unique time.
Take a look at what is available, you might be very surprised! So far we have art, textiles, jewellery making, sculpture, calligraphy, flower arranging, felting, bread making, clay working, soap making, mini gardening and much more!
Virtual jewellery workshop with Dainty
Podcasts, free tutorials and craft channels
In additional to the great selection of courses we have on offer, you can also find some great free resources online from short articles to read, varied podcasts and radio shows to listen to and creative online channels to watch. Why not give these ones a try?
BBC Sounds App: The BBC offers a huge range of free podcasts from music and politics to drama and art. With a handy search tool, you’ll be spoilt for choice!
PlayerFM: PlayerFM also offers up a great list of what they consider to be the Best Creative podcasts of 2020 so far, with audio studio tours, tips for routines and ruts and much more, this is a bit of a treasure trove!
YouTube: As far as free resources go, you will find a whole range of free tasters, tutorials and kit reviews on here. Start with a simple search like “craft channels” and you will see the range available. Maybe set a timer before you start... for sanity’s sake.
We also wouldn’t be our usual CraftCourses selves if we didn’t have a list of our favourite podcasts, radio shows and tutorials to share with you. Take a look at our list of the best podcasts to help you through self-isolation, and beyond!
Along with your healthy eating, stretching, scheduled fact checks and audio/video indulgence time, it is important to strike a balance between having a routine and making sure each day has some variety.
So, take a deep breath, leave your phone on the side table, turn your computer off and try some of these instead:
Leatherwork kit from Hands of Tym
Take a craft course from the comfort of your own home by getting a kit delivered straight to your door. Most craft boxes contain everything you need (minus the odd item which most people have already) to complete a project and learn some new craft techniques.
So if you've ever fancied having a go at making a leather bag, lino printing your own cards, making soap or weaving this could be the time to try! There are lots of craft types to choose from and once you've found the one for you and placed your order you can switch off all devices and enjoy some offline crafting time. Ahhhhhhh....that's better!
Be it fiction, nonfiction, home magazines or cross words, there’s a huge selection out there just waiting for you.
Recently, we compiled our team's current favourite books (craft books obviously) and shared them with you - now’s as good a time as any to take a look...
Plus, as huge devourers of craft books we decided to add a section to our website for all the expert arts & crafts tutors on our site to share their own books with you. Take a look - they know what they're talking about!
Feedspot have also compiled a great list of the top 10 craft magazines and publications to follow in 2020, most of these are UK based.
Their top suggestion being Mollie Makes, a Bristol based team of lovely ladies who provide a wealth of tutorials and how-to’s that are well worth a look!
Finally, we really should say, how important a bit of fresh air is going to be. So, open those windows, sit on your balcony, or do a little weeding in your back garden. Use your allocated time out in the public, if you can do so safely and still maintain distance from other people, to find a local natural spot to stretch your legs and enjoy the quiet. Just please please follow the governement guidance and enjoy responsibily.
You could also play around with your camera or camera phone, do some mini sketches; I'm currently working on four ‘mundane’ objects that I know I will be bored of looking at after a few weeks, so I decided I would photograph them and attempt to paint them. Why not?
Or amongst all this madness, you could just sit, relax, be calm, breath and get some much-needed rest.
After all, if you tick off even half of this list, it might end up actually feeling like quite a productive few weeks!
Take care x