Tools for Creativity During the Pandemic

For those still sheltering at home — or have more free time — there is one silver lining in the pandemic: it can give us more opportunity for creative pursuits.

Creative activities can actually give a boost to our mental health. Research studies have documented its psychological and physical benefits. For example, it can help us manage our anxiety and depression, process trauma, express thoughts or emotions too difficult to put in words, cultivate a positive sense of self, and even improve our immune systems. Other studies suggest that the very process of creating (independent of a person’s skill or talent) can relieve stress, improve communication and help slow cognitive decline in older people.

So if you have extra time on your hands, this is a good moment to develop a creative pursuit. But maybe you find the idea of “being creative” intimidating — that is, you imagine that only talented, artistic people get to be “creative.” That’s really a self-limiting belief. In actuality we all are creative whenever we innovate or try something new in our everyday lives. Maybe it’s just something that makes life a little easier, more efficient, more beautiful or just a little more fun.

Of course you may want to take that next step by learning a new skill that serves as an conduit for self-expression. But how do you get started? Fortunately, the Internet is filled with free or inexpensive resources for jump-starting your new hobby. Here are just a few suggestions for being creative during Covid:

Cooking. We all have to eat, so why not learn a new way of cooking? Maybe it’s baking bread from scratch. Or trying out a different type of cuisine. Or you’re a beginner who needs help with the basics. One great resource is the Food Network’s recipe database. Just search on some ingredients and see what pops up.

Crafts. Whether it’s knitting, pottery or other activities, crafts can help you relax and relieve stress, as well as be a wonderful creative outlet. Check out these “10 Crafts to Try This Year.

Music. You’re never too old to learn to play a musical instrument (especially since research has found that learning can boost cognitive functioning in older adults). Piano and guitar are two of the easier instruments for adults to start with. There are many free instructional videos on YouTube. Or you can even find a teacher who works online. Would you rather sing than play? Try out a karaoke app!

Painting and drawing. Watercolor, oil, acrylic or pencils — whatever your medium, there are hundreds of instructional sites on the Internet (many on YouTube). Here are some of the best. And don’t forget your local public library’s website. It may provide online access to quality art videos and ebooks via such services as Kanopy, Hoopla and Overdrive. Or check out the many art apps available for iOS and Android devices.

Writing. Have you ever had the urge to write short stories or even a novel? Now’s the time! For support, encouragement and feedback, consider joining a local or online writer’s community. Not that ambitious, but still interested in exercising your writing muscle? Keep a journal. Journaling is not only a good creative outlet, it’s also an effective means to cope with stress, trauma and the challenges of living during the pandemic. Here are tips for getting started.

Photography. With today’s powerful cellphone cameras, you don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to enjoy photography, And sheltering-in-place isn’t an obstacle to experimentation. Try these 10 Cool Ideas for shooting photos at home. To get even more innovative with your photography, check out Photoshop or other editing software.

Family fun. Whether it’s music, artwork or just completing a jigsaw puzzle, now’s a great time to indulge your creativity together as a family. Here are 10 Tips to Find Fun and Inspiration as a Family. And browse through these specific ideas for keeping kids creatively entertained at home.

These are just some of the many ways of expressing creativity during this difficult time. Two things to keep in mind: 1) Don’t spread yourself too thin. It’s best to focus on one new activity. Give it time to develop. 2) Resist the urge to compare your efforts to other people’s. Don’t let your inner critic sabotage your creativity. 3) Remember the joy is in the journey, not the destination.

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