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Creativity and self-care in lockdown

Millie writes about what self-care activities have helped her during lockdown.

I’m not going to lie – lockdown has been a struggle for me. All the things I usually do for my mental health, like seeing my friends, doing my hobbies and going to work, are all impossible right now. So I have had to find new things.

I spent the first few weeks of lockdown on social media, just ruminating over the things I saw. One day I was scrolling through and just thought “what am I doing?” I then deactivated all my social media accounts to give myself some sanity. I kept in touch with my closest friends via text and phone calls, and they were very supportive of my decision. With all the time I had been spending on social media, I had loads of free time to do some different self-care.

After this, I discovered art. I found it really therapeutic. I have never really given it a chance before, because I always thought I wasn’t very good at it. My friend suggested painting eggs, but at that point there was a national shortage, so I painted stones instead! I spent entire days sitting in the garden painting rocks with my sister. Then we bought a pack of canvases and started coming up with creative ideas.  This really helped my mental health, as I was feeling helpless and like I had no control – and art helped me grasp it back again.

I have always been very interested in photography.  I got a DSLR camera for Christmas and I didn’t really have the time to experiment, but over lockdown I have been capturing my life every day. (The photo here was taken by me, it’s of my cat Mango.) About three years ago, I started knitting a scarf and now  I have finally finished it. It didn’t exactly turn out as a scarf, but it’s a lovely square of my own knitting. I have also been reorganising my room constantly, and trying to keep it tidy. I’ve been buying posters and bedding to make it more comforting and my own space. I have put up a few pieces of my lockdown art and printed my photography for my walls.

Another of my coping strategies is spending time with my pets and family. I’ve been walking the dog every day with my mum and sister, which helps me a lot because I am getting out of the house and getting some exercise. I try to watch a film or a television show every night with my mum and sister too, so we can spend some more time together. I feel that, in some ways, we have got closer during lockdown.

I am also enjoying going to pick up my grandparents’ ‘click and collect’ slot for them. This might sound weird, and I would never choose this in other circumstances, but it just gives me a little bit of normality. Being in the car, with the radio on, and going to help my grandparents stay safe by picking their shopping up for them – just doing this has been a good help for my mood.

I hope that some of this helps you with your self-care, or gives you some ideas about what might make a difference to you. Like I said, lockdown hasn’t been easy for me or for anyone. But I would say that self-care has got me through, one day at a time.

On My Mind is a website that aims to empower young people to make informed choices about their mental health and wellbeing. The pages were co-produced by young people to help other young people. The website includes a self-care page that has over 90 self-care strategies.