I've mentioned before that I struggle with depression and anxiety from time to time. It's the worst. Being in the depths of despair for long periods of time is exhausting and draining. You don't want to do anything.
I've learned that crafts help me a lot in these situations. They don't require too much thinking, but they keep me occupied and allow me to accomplish concrete tasks, which always feels nice. Below is a list of some of my favorite depression and anxiety crafts.
The summer after I graduated from seminary was rough. My best friends moved away, my boyfriend went away for a summer internship, I was alone a lot, I was extremely anxious and depressed, and I wasn't able to see a doctor until half way through the summer. My mom gave me a sewing machine as a graduation present, so I spent most of that summer re-reading Harry Potter and sewing a quilt for the first time. I spent hours at Joann Fabrics picking out the most beautiful material. I went on Spoonflower to find special avocado fabric to commemorate the fact that I was living at the Avocado House. I would methodically work on it while listening to This American Life on the internet. It was nice to have a plan--I knew I was going home to listen to great stories and slowly make a blanket. It helped to keep me calm, and it was helpful to focus on something tactile and visual instead of the miserable thoughts in my own head.
The finished product is by no means perfect, but I love it and it helped me get through a rough summer. You can find this super easy pattern in this book, which my mom also got for me as a graduation present.
2. Cross-Stitch and Embroidery
I love doing both of these things, and at different points in my life having a cross-stitch project and Gilmore Girls on Netflix has helped me to focus on something good. It's also really fun to make presents for people. That way, in the midst of your existential despair, you are creating something that someone else will enjoy, and that can help get you through the next day.
The following projects were not created out of depression, but these are the kinds of things I would make when depressed, and these particular projects are super fun.
I did a cross-stitch of Rapper's Delight for my brother and sister-in-law as a wedding cross stitch. Naturally.
My new favorite thing is to do stitch people portraits. There is a book, and it is a hefty upfront investment ($49). If you are creative, you could probably make your own patterns, but I definitely needed the book. The pay-off is that you can now make uncomplicated, SUPER CUTE portraits of people. They will not heal depression, but they are an accomplishment, and people LOVE THEM. You are contributing to the world in a a positive way! And, you will garner a lot of likes on Facebook, and that's never a bad thing.
These are my lovely friends and their baby. Also my sparkly blue nail. Sparkly nails never hurt when you are depressed, either.
I have no skills in painting, so I don't even have a picture of anything I've created, but basically I bought a $5 watercolor set (it had more beautiful colors than the Crayola ones) and some watercolor paper and I paint colors and shapes and only occasionally an actual form. Sometimes when you're doing depression and anxiety crafts your perfectionism can rear up and then you feel worse, so when I'm feeling very bad I try and work on things I can't possibly mess up. Splatter painting is also effective here.
Obviously depression and anxiety crafts are not a substitute for going to your doctor, or possibly drugs, or sleep, and exercise and eating right and all of those good things. But when you are very burned out, and having a hard time seeing the good in anything, sometimes a little crafting can make you feel slightly better about things. And some days, that's enough.
Do you have a favorite depression and anxiety craft or even just a feeling normal craft? (Those two categories overlap heavily for me.)