Don’t get me wrong, writing is soothing to me, but it can be kind of high pressure. Not entirely like an athlete, it’s a matter of ongoing practice and consistent performance if you want results. Sometimes, it’s what I do to unwind. Sometimes, though, I just need to put on Food Network and do something relatively mindless with my hands.
Lately, I’ve been getting back in touch with my artsy-craftsy side. My D&D DM arranged for a mini painting night at a brewery near where we play (Mully’s in Prince Frederick, MD, and if you haven’t gone, definitely check them out!) and, since I’d never done it before, I decided to haul ass down there on a weeknight (two and a half hours in traffic UGH) and try out what I knew might be a new hobby.
Well, I was right about the hobby bit. I really enjoyed hunching over and squinting a bunch and painting my first mini. I definitely made a lot of rookie mistakes with the way I approached the black sections, but one of the other players/painters, Brian, really gave me some great pointers.
I tried my second mini a few nights later at home and definitely improved by leaps and bounds! I only had a handful of paint colors, including a bright turquoise aqua, that I managed to muddle down to a deep green for the cloak. I found it so completely comforting and relaxing to do for about two hours that I feel like it’s a way I can use to deal with anxiety.
I find that the best things for my daily moderate anxiety (thanks to a traumatic event in July 2016) are those that keep my hands and mind busy, but aren’t too stressful. Sometimes video games are great for this, but sometimes the pressure to achieve something in combat can be a bit much and I need something more mellow.
I also am trying cross stitching for the first time (seriously, anyway, I’ve dabbled before) to make a present for a friend for the holidays. That, it turns out, is also very soothing. Cross stitching and a glass of wine while listening to D&D podcasts is really fantastic. I had a pretty high anxiety day yesterday and was finally able to calm down in the evening once I started to stitch. It’s no wonder art therapy is used so widely with patients with depression or PTSD.