Most of us are still spending more time in our homes than we did pre-2020, and more time alone has led to an increased feeling of disconnection for many. For this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, we’re taking a look at how creativity can help us tackle loneliness.
Loneliness and creativity have a complicated, symbiotic relationship. Whether you’re a professional or hobbyist, and whatever the medium, many creative pursuits are often practised alone. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; a certain amount of time to ourselves is needed to foster creativity, to give our brains time to process, to be still. Often, it’s when we’re forced to entertain ourselves that we come up with new and interesting ideas to do just that.
But there’s a big difference between being alone and being lonely. Whilst the former is good for our brains and our creativity, the latter can have a massive detrimental effect on both our mental and physical health. The impact of Covid on the way we socialise means we’ve spent more time alone in these last two years than ever before, which in turn has led to an increased feeling of disconnection for many. According to recent research by the Mental Health Foundation, one in four of us feel lonely some or all of the time.
How can creativity, an often-solitary pursuit, help? Well, creativity doesn’t exist in a vacuum. All of us (because we’re all creative in one way or another) need inspiration, from experiences, learning new things, meeting new people. And though we might enjoy making something purely for ourselves, it’s hugely rewarding to share our work with others: a painting hung on a wall, a scarf knitted with someone else in mind, a story written for other people to read. As humans, we need connection; as creatives, we need inspiration.
So, if you’re feeling a little disconnected in this almost, sort of, post-pandemic world, why not use creativity as a way to connect with people again? There’s plenty going on in Dundee you can get involved in, and below you’ll find a selection of regular groups, short courses, workshops and monthly events where everyone is welcome to have a go. As the city comes back to life, be a part of it.
If you’re interested in doing some writing in your spare time but don’t quite know where to start, mental health organisation Art Angel runs a Creative Writing Group every Friday—at each class, you get a couple of prompts to spark your imagination and the time and support you need to explore them. Maybe you’re already writing your own stuff? Great! Why not join the Nethergate Writers or Douglas Writing Group to get a little feedback and connect with other local writers? Similarly, if you’re ready to share your work with the world, visit a monthly Hotchpotch to perform your most recent piece of writing or poetry to an incredibly supportive crowd of peers. If you’re not quite ready to take to the stage yet, that’s okay too—head along and listen instead!
How about trying a new format? Ninewells Community Garden are running a one-off journaling workshop on reflective writing, and the brilliant zine collective Coin-Operated Press are hosting a workshop with DUSA for those wanting to give making zines a go, focusing particularly on your own nerdy obsession as a source of inspiration.
Maybe you’d rather get hands-on with making things? Art Angel hosts a regular art class, with materials provided and guidance available to help you grow and develop your skills. Dundee Art Society also hosts a whole bunch of regular art classes from their space on Roseangle. Bring along your most recent project to their Chill-out Tuesdays to socialise with a group of local artists and art enthusiasts, or if you’d rather have a bit more support, their Wednesday class, Art for All, has a tutor available to help guide and develop your painting style.
If craft is more your thing, Dundee Ceramics Workshop, based in Wasps Meadow Mill, run a whole host of workshops in working with clay, including classes for beginners plus advanced groups for anyone looking to improve existing skills. DCA’s Craft Sundays offer a chance to learn new things over tea, biscuits and chat, and their open-access Print Studio has courses and workshops to suit all levels and interests.
Sometimes what you need is a laugh. Icebreaker Comedy hosts a monthly open mic night for anyone looking to give stand up a go—it’s a bunch of fun for both performers and audience members. At Dundee Rep Theatre, you’ll find both the Rep Community Company and Scottish Dance Theatre Community Company running adult drama and dance classes for anyone to go along to—no experience required, just enthusiasm. They also have groups designed for anyone with long-term health conditions, and accessible dance and movement classes too!
Sometimes it’s less about being part of a particular creative group and more about feeling connected to the wider community. As part of Stobsfest, there are a few events coming up that celebrate creativity in the city, including An Arty Evening, which is an opportunity to chat about art and community with people living locally. Lastly, to toot our own horn, Creative Dundee’s Amps network is a brilliant way to connect with other people in the city, particularly at our weekly Amps Breakfasts. You don’t have to be a creative professional to join; it’s a community open to all people who make and cultivate creativity in Dundee. We’d love to have you!
We understand that if you’ve been having a difficult time recently or have concerns about your mental health, creating with others or at all might not be the answer you’re seeking right now. If you feel that you’d benefit from some additional or professional advice and guidance, the Mental Health Foundation list resources and suggestions for people in Scotland on their website.
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