Drawing towards happiness: boosting wellbeing with creative activities

Over the past few months, we have been stuck inside for long periods, often by ourselves. We have not been able to visit galleries or attend art classes. Lockdown has been tough without many creative outlets. But Giles Penman presents an artistic solution at an upcoming virtual OnTrack session

The long weeks of lockdown have continued to bite. The weather may be becoming warmer, but lockdown is well and truly frozen in place for the time being. All we can do is watch and wait to be let out again to restaurants, cinemas, and pubs.  Anticipating the end of lockdown feels tedious, as though it will never end. However, we could pass the time creatively and boost our wellbeing simultaneously.

 At the beginning of the first lockdown in March 2020, I was by myself away from loved ones with no chance to be reunited in sight. I became quite despondent at this gloomy prospect. Instead of sitting alone with my thoughts and feelings, I began to share them the old-fashioned way with the help of pens, notecards, and stamps. I wrote letters to family and friends and drew pen pictures to accompany my words. It was just a wonderful feeling of connection that I just could not experience through videoconferencing over Zoom, Skype or Teams. It was as though I were sending a piece of myself through the post along with my art and letters, even though I could not be there in person. I felt uplifted, happy and a great sense of contentment despite the isolation of lockdown. My despair was forgotten.

I have written about this for a previous PhDLife blog post entitled ‘Writing out the Winter lockdown blues’. But I wish to show you and other postgraduate researchers that you, too, can experience the same joy and wellbeing that I feel through creativity. Janet Winter, a Wellbeing Advisor at Wellbeing Services, and I will host a virtual OnTrack session on Wednesday 5th May about using creativity to promote inner wellbeing. We will discuss the wellbeing benefits of writing letters and being creative, including drawing. Then we will undertake a drawing exercise together. At the end, Janet and I will explore with attendees how drawing made them feel.  Now, do not worry. This is not a competition. And you do not need to be an artist to join in the fun. I am not an artist at all, but I gain so much fulfilment and happiness from drawing and sharing my creations with others. The point is to show you that drawing and other creative activities can be enjoyable and relaxing, boosting your sense of wellbeing. And creativity is something that you can share with others in person or online.

Writing and drawing have really helped me through the miserable days of lockdown over the past year. Come along to On Track on 5th May to learn more about the benefits of these activities. I look forward to seeing you there.

Would you like to experience the joy and wellbeing benefits of creativity? If so, please look out for the OnTrack advertisements and join Giles Penman and Janet Winter on 5th May. Tweet us at @ResearchEx, email us at libraryblogs@warwick.ac.uk, or leave a comment below.

by Giles

Giles Penman is a PhD researcher supervised by the Classics and History Departments at the University of Warwick. His research concerns the roles and audiences of ancient imagery on British civic cultural artefacts of the Great War. He has a background in Classics, Archaeology and Numismatics

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