New Year brings resolutions and a predictable focus on physical fitness. However, I want to see this supported by a more holistic approach that acknowledges and embeds the benefits of engaging in a daily creative activity that contributes so positively to our wellbeing and mental health.
ArtsWell is a wonderful arts for health organisation run by the inspiring Jayne Howard. Throughout this year they offered chances to stay connected alongside opportunities to reflect on these challenging and difficult times. In our pre-Christmas meet-up (online of course) Jayne highlighted the important UCL research study. Conducted weekly throughout the Covid19 period in the UK it has produced some particularly illuminating results. The research crucially shows that creative activities increased by 24% across all demographics and creative activities were identified as being the most effective way to foster wellbeing and positive mental health.
As well as being one of our founding members at THE DAILY HAIKU Jayne has also supported our creative activities and helped understand the benefits of being able to engage in an activity that is easy to achieve, accessible, can be fitted in for those pressured by time, covers different levels of engagement either by browsing or contributing whilst also offering longer engagement and something that fosters social connectivity.
When I set up THE DAILY HAIKU the wellbeing aspect was always a key part of its inception and is touched on in many of the member interviews you can read here. The group often chooses themes such as loneliness, lockdown, depression and grief which inspire haiku but also encourage members to share experiences and support each other.
On our sister FB Page, set up to support the main group but also to provide a space to publish associated resources and events, the reviews section highlights key wellbeing elements of being involved in being a member of THE DAILY HAIKU https://www.facebook.com/thedailyhaikucreative/reviews including comments from Catrin Davies ‘Lifts the spirits every day!’ and from Jenny Robb ‘This group has kept me sane during lockdown!’
Given the rise in mental health concerns across all areas and demographics during Covid19 restrictions throughout this past year, being engaged in a daily creative work-out has been shown to have enormous wellbeing and general health benefits. I really hope support for arts for health, social prescribing and grassroots community projects will be placed front and centre of future policies across all sectors, not only healthcare and the arts, but crucially from local and national government.
What creative activities have you enjoyed over this year and how have they benefited your wellbeing?