Self-Care 101: Make Something

Do you have a secret dream hobby?  That thing that you dream about doing, but never quite find time (or courage) to attempt?  Maybe you were shamed in a school art class, and you are deeply convinced that you don’t have any creative talent.  Maybe you are tone deaf or get stage fright.  Well this week, I am inviting to you think about that secret creative dream.

I can see the puzzled looks now.  “What does creativity have to do with mental health?” you might be asking.  I believe that the two are deeply linked.  And I think that all of us have a creative urge.  However, we think of creativity as the playing ground for the special few that can draw, paint, sing, sculpt, etc.  And for those of us whose creative talents lie elsewhere, that often means that we can feel left out of the creativity ball game.

But here’s the thing.  Every kindergartener knows that there is something profoundly satisfying about being able to say, “I made something.”  We are all creative, and everyone has the urge to make something new, to build something, to grow something–to create.

When we are making something, we feel productive, and useful, and capable.  When we learn to make a new thing, we are growing critical neural connections that keep our brains healthy.  When we can point to something and say, “I made that,” we have a sense of pride and joy.

Now, for those of you who are getting ready to tell me, “But I don’t have a creative bone in my body,” let me encourage you to think about this some more.  Creativity comes in all stripes.  Do you like to cook?  Have you been fantasizing about a garden? Do you get excited about home improvement? Are you an excellent social planner? Do you have a secret “project notebook” where you keep track of things you’d love to build or try?  Have you been dying to try some photography or scrapbooking? Do you have a journal of your favorite thoughts, poems, or story starters? Are you a whiz at website design or computer coding?

I have a fairly substantial lack of traditional artistic talent, myself.  Painting, drawing, sculpting–these are things that just elude me.  But, a few years ago, I really wanted to be be able to make something. So, I got a children’s book about knitting, and I used it to learn how to make scarves.  I haven’t ever progressed beyond scarves–they are simple and don’t need a pattern or a lot of attention.  But what I make isn’t nearly as important as the satisfaction of producing something.

It doesn’t matter what you make. The point is that you make something. That you get the satisfaction of knowing that your talents (or at least your effort) brought something into the world that wasn’t there before.  So, are you fired up? I’d love to hear what you decide to try!


Image Credit: Photo by hello-julie via Flickr under Creative Commons License.

6 thoughts on “Self-Care 101: Make Something

  1. That there is some luscious yarn porn, Doc! Creativity fires up the soul. I’ve battled bouts of depression over the years and in those moments where I just didn’t give a rat’s ass about anything, I’d pick up some needlework and somehow working with my hands, creating, making something beautiful made me feel good where nothing else would. It is as necessary as food for me. You know, even if you don’t think you have “talent,” buy a coloring book and some crayons!

    1. Scorchy,

      “Yarn porn!” Love it. I’m gonna steal that phrase! I actually keep crayons, markers, colored pencils, coloring books and blank paper in my office for people to use during session. And I schlep my knitting bag with me everywhere because just having the yarn in my hands makes me feel better (and helps get me through lots of grade school sporting events).

      Thanks for your thoughts,


  2. My outlets change with the seasons.This time of year for me it is gardening. I love harvesting the veggies and herbs and then cooking them. In the winter it tends to be more home decorating and bread baking.

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