As you will see from Lorna’s story, art and creativity can be a great help to some people experiencing eating disorders. Two Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust art experts share their thoughts on the positive aspects of creativity.

Creativity boost for self-confidence and calm

Angela Conlan, Oxford Health’s Creating with Care lead said: “Creativity is so important for well-being because it improves mood, increases brain function and self-confidence and makes you feel happy. Being creative helps to focus your mind on what you are doing which then has a calming effect on the whole body.

“Spending a few minutes listening to your favourite piece of music, creating art from nature, learning origami or simple doodling can be a great way to increase relaxation and mindfulness.”

Five ways to wellbeing

Tom Cox, Artscape project manager has also said: “Being creative is a great way to engage with the five ways to wellbeing – Connect, Learn, Be Active, Give and Take Notice. Spending at least 10 minutes a day drawing and doodling is a great way to get started and builds confidence.”

Tom suggests:

  • Be open to new ideas and techniques – there are loads of demonstrations available online to help you develop your skills
  • Collect and take pictures of things that inspire and intrigue you – gathering them together in a sketch book means you can keep them to hand when you want to draw something.
  • As well as spending time drawing, you can also spend time looking at the world for inspiration, take time out every day to look at new things and notice the colour, texture and shapes. By repeating each step, a number of times will make it easier and more comfortable.

Angela explained: “Engaging in art is a good way to distract the mind from things that trouble us. If the idea of starting to draw, paint, sculpt or take photos daunts you start by focusing on the activities you enjoy most and don’t be afraid to copy other people’s ideas and styles.

“Sharing your work with others is nice way to connect with people and receiving a hand-made card or drawing is a thoughtful gift. Most of all try to have fun.”

Being creative and kind to yourself

“Wellbeing is such an essential part of eating disorder recovery says Lottie Mellor, deputy team manager for CAMHS Swindon. “A big part of recovery is about remembering that you are so much more than your eating disorder. It is understanding that it is ok to take care of yourself and being proud of yourself just for being you.

“Wellbeing is about engaging in positive activities that bring you joy, giving yourself time to rest when you need too, connecting with people that make you feel good and being kind to yourself as you would to others.”

Useful links for wellbeing