The pandemic caused a massive mental health crisis as people were forced to lockdown. Some were in unhealthy situations; others turned to unhealthy coping mechanisms, which resulted in a negative spiral. There are many reasons why mental health and even physical health took a massive turn for the worst during the last few lockdowns.
Of course, those who were hit the worse were those in dangerous home situations and those on the front lines. As a result, medical teams around the world are burning out, from counselors to doctors.
Approximately 78% of adults cite the coronavirus pandemic as a significant cause of stress, and 67% of adults have increased stressed levels due to the pandemic. Counselors are one of the primary care providers for those struggling with their mental health, yet they, too, have been struggling more than ever.
Counselor stress is serious, and it is resulting in serious concerns down the line. Counselors, after all, don’t just have pandemic stress to contend with, but compassion fatigue. While there are many great, health-based ways to help reduce stress and compassion fatigue, one of the underrated heroes of managing stress is arts and crafts.
Art has long been used as a coping mechanism and as a mental health treatment for those with a wide range of conditions. From counselors and beyond, everyone can and should pick up a hobby craft of some sort to help them with their mental health.
Signs that You Are Burning Out
Before you learn the mental health benefits of crafts and the best crafts to try, it is important to recognize the signs of a burnout, and to of course, also invest in taking care of your health. Once you do these two things, the benefits of crafts will be far more apparent.
Burnout is a good way to look at pandemic stressors, especially if you are experiencing compassion fatigue on top of it all. Stress is normal. Stress, in small doses, can even be healthy for you. Ongoing stress, however, can result in a complete breakdown. Breakdowns can take a long time to recover from, so know the signs of a burnout so that you can take steps towards a healthier change before you reach that ultimate low point.
1. You Feel Increasingly Stressed and Frustrated at Work
If you feel stressed, frustrated, and like you are losing your ability to do the job that you know, for a fact, that you used to be able to do, this is often a key sign of a burnout. However, it is even more important for those like counselors to notice these signs because burnout out for you has serious implications for others.
This is particularly due to the fact that most people who are burning out experiencing an emotional distance from their work. As a result, they stop caring, they start to feel an aversion to going to work or doing the required tasks.
2. You Perform Worse Than Usual
Another key sign that you are burning out is that you are underperforming. This is particularly true if others, like your supervisor, have noticed the drop in your performance. Your job could be on the line, or others could be put at risk in some instances. This additional pressure can result in even further anxiety.
3. You Are Experiencing Physical and/or Emotional Burnout
If you experience any of the signs of physical or emotional burnout (or both) then you need to take drastic steps towards removing yourself from the stress. From there, you will want to improve your health and find a healthy outlook like crafts.
Signs of Physical Burnout
Burnout, or chronic stress, comes with a host of physical symptoms to watch out for. Commonly those with chronic stress or who are nearing a burnout, will experience headaches and migraines, stomach aches, intestinal issues, difficulty sleeping, and so on. If you aren’t careful, you can run yourself ragged.
Chronic stress can also make it harder to take care of yourself properly, which in turn puts more stress on your body and reduces your ability to emotionally regulate and handle your responsibilities at work even further.
Signs of Emotional Burnout
Emotional burnout is one of the most stressful experiences associated with burnout. You may feel drained, like you are unable to cope or on the verge of crying. In addition, small, little inconveniences that you usually wouldn’t even blink at can put you on the edge of an anxiety attack.
Emotional burnout and clinical anxiety are very similar, and one can actually lead to the other, making it even more important for you to improve your health and find a healthy outlet like crafts in which to manage your stress.
How to Relieve Stress
To really experience the benefit of crafts and of art, you will need to first reduce stress and improve your mental health with these two key steps:
Improve Your Health
Your health plays a big role in emotional regulation. If you are well-rested, well-fed, and generally healthy, you are naturally going to be better at managing your stress, and in turn, less likely to reach the stages of a burnout.
Improve your health by:
- Eating healthy, nutrient-rich foods
- Sleeping 7 to 9 hours per day
- Exercising regularly
- Maintaining a great hygiene routine
Rely on Your Support Network
Another key step is to build and rely on a support network. This can be a network of close friends, or other professionals. Counselors, for example, can also benefit from being counseled, and there are resources available to help counselors and other mental health professionals get help when they need it.
Just because you know what to say, and can work through what you are feeling, does not stop you from feeling it. Sharing and relying on others takes a huge weight off of your shoulders, so ensure you have people you trust and can rely on in your life.
Mental Health Benefits of Crafts
Once you have your health on track, and a social network that you can rely on, you’ll find arts and crafts to be the perfect way to improve your mental health.
1. A Productive, Creative Distraction
Even if one of those habits is work, negative thought cycles and habits can cause a negative feedback loop. Crafts give you a small, achievable goal that you can work towards. They take a significant amount of focus as well, allowing you to distract yourself from your concerns, giving your mind and thoughts a break for a short while from the negative experiences in your life.
2. Build up Confidence and Self-Esteem
Working with your hands, creating, and having fun with what you are doing are also great ways to increase your confidence and self-esteem, which can often be wrecked due to the symptoms of burnout.
3. Keeps Your Brain Active and Healthy
Crafting and art are great to stimulate your brain and also work to reduce stress, blood pressure, and anxiety. In addition, people use art to help manage conditions like depression and stress because it requires different areas of the brain and is also physically calming.
4. Allows for Self-Expression
Being able to express yourself, regardless of what that looks like, is an excellent way to help improve your mental health. Keeping things bottled up is unhealthy and unrealistic. Journaling, crafting, drawing – all of this can help you express yourself and to help get your stress and worries out.
5. Boost Your Wellbeing
Finishing a project is very empowering and can give you a sense of accomplishment and pride that can help counteract many of the symptoms of burnout and stress. Even just working and enjoying the process is great for your wellbeing. Being in the now, working with your hands, and engaging a new area of the brain can all help put yourself in a new state of mind that is healthier and happier.
Creative therapy is a professional, established practice to help those suffering from mental health concerns. You yourself can choose either professional creative therapy or can alternatively take classes and workshops to learn new crafts and also meet others. Creative therapy wis so effectively because it encourages participants to connect with their authentic selves.
Learning new skills is also a break from negative patterns, giving your brain something new to focus on, and in turn, can help you move away from damaging thought behaviors.
Creative therapy, art, crafts – all of it requires you to engage with your creative self and to express your thoughts and emotions in new mediums. This has consistently offered stress relief, pain relief, and relief of mental health conditions for a wide variety of people.
Art is also for everyone, and it doesn’t matter how much you like your final piece or not. Finding a craft, or learning something new, can be instrumental in helping you manage the stress that often leads to burnout, so introduce art to your life and free yourself through the power of creativity.