In a new initiative with The Prince’s Trust, presenter and former Stylist guest editor Fearne Cotton is encouraging the nation to get creative in the name of wellbeing. Here, she reveals how creativity helps her manage her mental health on a day-to-day basis.
Fearne Cotton isn’t one to shy away from conversations about mental health. Since the launch of her Happy Place podcast in 2018, the presenter and former Stylist guest editor has spoken out about dealing with panic attacks, anxiety and depression, all while leading an important conversation about how we can find the joy in the everyday.
And now, in a new initiative in collaboration with The Prince’s Trust, Cotton is speaking out about the activity she turns to in order to manage her wellbeing and help her switch off after a busy day: being creative.
“One of the things that I am deeply passionate about, just because I love it, but also because I know how much it offers you mentally, is creating,” she explains. “I think a lot of people miss out on that sort of arm of wellbeing.”
Warming to her theme, Cotton continues: “Wellbeing is sometimes framed wrongly – it’s seen as having to do yoga every day or doing all kinds of therapies or whatever, when actually, it can be anything that makes you feel great. And so, for me, being creative is a key component for me feeling well, and I paint and draw a lot.”
Cotton adds: “For me, it’s the ability to switch off from all the stuff that we perceive to be stressful, like if you’ve got tons of emails or you’re behind on work or your relationship dynamic is stressing you out. Just getting off my phone and just having some escapism is key. And I can do that in several ways – sometimes it might be going for a run, or doing yoga. More often than not, though, it’s just drawing and sketching and creating something.”
Cotton’s initiative – The Great Create – aims to encourage people all over the UK to throw “Great Create parties” throughout March by getting together with their friends and family to have a go at getting creative and discover the benefits it offers for our wellbeing, all while raising money. The funds collected by the parties will go towards youth charity The Prince’s Trust, to help fund courses that support young people’s wellbeing.
“I think the initiative is to encourage people to know that they can be creative, even though they may feel like they’re not a creative person – to really get into a group and see what conversation flows from that, especially because when we’re doing stuff with our hands it’s often much easier to open up to other people and talk about things.
As many of us will already know, getting creative is a great way to practice mindfulness and switch off after a difficult day. Studies have repeatedly proven that being creative has a positive effect on our overall stress levels and wellbeing – a 2016 study published in the journal Art Therapy found that the act of making art has the potential to lower our stress hormone levels, no matter how “good” we think we are.
But, as Cotton highlights, many people still feel uncomfortable embracing their creative side. She hopes this new initiative might go some way towards changing that.
“I think the main thing you have to do is not worry whether it’s good or not,” she explains. “The whole point of being creative is to try something new, to experiment, to see with curiosity what that ends up being. It doesn’t have to be some amazing masterpiece, or something that even looks like something you were trying to replicate – it’s just about having the freedom of expression, putting yourself out there in that way and trying something new and feeling in a group.
“We get so isolated because of the internet and our phones these days – we don’t make the time and effort to sit with other people. To chat and do something creative is a lovely healing thing, and if [The Great Create] encourages people to make it a regular thing that they might do more than once, that would be amazing too.
“It’s not about focusing on if the outcome is of a standard, it’s just about enjoying the process and being proud about whatever the thing you create is, because you took the time to try.”
You can find out more about The Great Create, including how to get involved, here.
Images: Rankin/The Prince’s Trust