Imogen Bond shares some comforting tips for creative projects to get us through the dark winter evenings.
The longer nights of winter are made for creative projects. Dark doesn’t need to be depressing; take inspiration from Scandinavia and make life more ‘hygge’ (a Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment as being cosy, comfortable or charming) with a cosy atmosphere, gentle times with friends, and the chance to reflect and recharge.
Creativity can help to reduce anxiety and stress – we have about 60,000 thoughts a day, so focusing the mind with creative activities can, like meditation, have a calming effect on the brain.
Studies have also shown that writing about your day can help to boost your immune system, which might just help you swerve winter coughs and colds. Although experts are still unsure exactly how it works, it’s thought that writing increases your CD4+ lymphocyte count, which is the key to your immune system.
Here are three creative ideas to improve your health, boost your mood and make this winter a little more hygge:
• Winter words
Try having a night each week where you switch off screens. Light some candles, cosy up under a blanket and pick up a good book. Read a chapter and then try some creative writing in response. Take a single line that captures your imagination, or feels relevant to your day and use it as the opening line for your own piece of writing. Throw the rule book out the window – jot notes, impressions, images – whatever springs to mind. If it becomes something you want to craft and edit, that’s great, but if not, just having a play with some words and images is enough to get your creativity flowing.
• Get hygge with friends
Invite a small group of friends over for an evening of soulful sharing. Ask pals to each bring something creative that they love – it could be a long-known poem, a short passage from a favourite novel, even a song.
Cook some hearty simple food that goes straight from oven to table – a spiced jambalaya, or a tasty lasagne is just the ticket.
After dinner, and a few glasses of wine (!) take it in turns to share your creative offerings. Each person could say why their chosen piece means something to them. It’s not about being a great per former, simply about sharing something that has touched you. You could even theme what you’re sharing…how about ‘winter warmers’, ‘lost loves’ or ‘evergreen’?
• Mindful crafting
Present shopping can be pretty stressful, but getting crafty making gifts and decorations can be a great way to recharge. There’s no need to buy lots of new kit, get creative with what you have at home:
– Using old birthday and Christmas cards, turn them into new gift tags – cut out images, add buttons, ribbons or other cut outs to decorate.
– Remember potato prints from primary school? Cut out simple winter shapes, such as holly leaves, and print with thick paint.
Use brown paper to make your own gift wrap, or print onto plain postcards to create homemade thank you cards.
– Make eco-friendly winter decorations by drying some orange slices – they’ll make your home smell lovely too. Thinly slice large oranges and lay flat on a baking tray. They’ll take around an hour to dry in the oven at 120C . Thread them with ribbon, tie together in a garland, add in cinnamon sticks, chillies or foliage. They look lovely strung across windows or the mantelpiece, and will last around 2 years. A lovely, mindful project for you, and good for the planet too.
Don’t let the dark nights get you down; creativity will get you through.