With the worldwide pandemic ravaging the world, many people find more free time on their hands than they can remember. After all, going out is not really an option at the moment, and nobody knows when it will be.
But it turns out, idle hands are capable of incredible things. And thanks to the subreddit “Something I Made,” which has people sharing their most incredible pieces of work, we now have a full collection of handmade goodness for our eyes to feast on.
From an incredible dinosaur costume built from PVC pipes and foam and a "Game Over" cross-stitch piece, to pants purposefully constructed with pockets deep enough to fit a TV remote and beer, these are some mad DIY skills that may spark your inner go-doer and maker that has been deep asleep all this time.
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The worldwide pandemic which has been ravaging the globe has not been the brightest thing in recent memory for most of us. With so many people left jobless and struggling to find hope that everything will get back to normal eventually, it’s only normal to feel more anxious and low-spirited than usual.
But engaging in DIY activities can not only give your idle hands something to work on, it can have some seriously positive effects on mental health. To find out more about the positive effects DIY activities and art-making have on our minds, Bored Panda reached out to Liza Hinchey, a psychologist, art therapist, and a doctoral researcher at Wayne State University.
“Art-making has the special power of getting our minds into what’s called 'the flow state.' If you’ve ever been doing something and found that hours went by without you even noticing, you were in the flow state of mind! Research has shown that the more time people spend in the flow state, the happier they are on average.”
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Moreover, Liza told us that art-making can reduce anxiety by “improving 'mindfulness'—known as a nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment.” It’s “because anxiety is often characterized by thinking about the future,” explained Liza, but “focusing on the present moment is a natural antidote to anxiety.”
The psychologist added that art-making activities that “involve repetitive, similar motions (like coloring or doodling a pattern)” are particularly helpful since they “can help reduce anxious thoughts and bring us back to the present.”
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And since art-making for many people brings enormous benefits for their mental health, art therapy can be useful for anyone. “While art-making outside of therapy has enormous benefits for mental health, creating art under the guidance of an art therapist can be especially helpful.”
Liza said “it’s great for small children who may not have the vocabulary to express their emotions yet, and can therefore represent them better through art; it’s used to treat trauma in adults, as traumatic memories are often most active in visual centers of the brain, so art can help people process these memories when talking about them doesn’t suffice (not to say that talk therapy is not helpful for trauma—it often is!); it’s used to treat anxiety, grief, depression, and so many other concerns.”
“One of the most powerful things about art therapy is that it can really be adapted for anyone, and requires absolutely no artistic 'skill.' The point isn’t to make a 'masterpiece,' but to explore yourself as a human being,” the psychologist concluded.
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Meanwhile, a study from Heather L. Stuckey, a professor at the Department of Medicine, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, and Jeremy Nobel from Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, suggests that crafting and engaging in creative activities may help decrease anxiety, stress, and mood disturbances, as well as improve well-being and quality of life.
Over the past decade, health psychologists have cautiously begun looking at how the arts might be used in a variety of ways to heal emotional injuries, increase understanding of oneself and others, develop a capacity for self-reflection, reduce symptoms, and alter behaviors and thinking patterns.
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Another study published in 2020 looked into the connection between arts and mental health, functioning, & life satisfaction. The study authors came to a conclusion that “frequent arts participation and cultural attendance were associated with lower levels of mental distress and higher levels of life satisfaction, with arts participation additionally associated with better mental health functioning.”