Getting lost in a creative activity is like yoga for the brain - it can help in recovery after illness or injury, decrease the chances of getting dementia, create community, improve coping skills and help to keep you calm. What more reason do you need to get stuck in to one of Colchester's plethora of creative activities?
You don't need to be able to paint like Michaelangelo or compose like Mozart to reap the benefits of immersing yourself in a creativity. According to Harvard even doodling has been shown to improve memory, reduce anxiety and help critical thinking! So even if you don't see yourself as a creative person, it may well be worth your while to try your hand at one of the many creative activities our lil ol' town can offer:
Knitting has long been known to aid in serotonin release, reduce stress, anxiety and depression, improve cognitive function and has even been used to help those with eating disorders or chronic pain. Not suprising then that Colchester has several groups dedicated to the art: Yarn Inspirations runs the monthly meet-up Yarn Lovers, last Tuesday of the month at GO4 Cafe at the Rec. The group is for every level, gender and type of yarn lover including knitting, crocheting and tapestry. The social club for anyone over 18 based at 15 Queen Street, GEMS also run Yarn and Yatter sessions weekly and are hosting an International Knitting Day on June 9th at Firstsite where you can drop in to meet up and knit or crochet and add something in to an ongoing project. And the amazing Blanketeers provide the triple whammy of preventing isolation, encouraging creativity and making colourful, warm blankets for end of life patients at the hospital.
If sketching is more your thing then venture along to the Life Drawing Class at SPACE, 37 Queen Street - an untutored class on May 26th where you can practise drawing a life model, meet new people & have some creative fun or head to a Drink & Draw regular meet-up - a fun & informal drawing club that meets on the last Tuesday of each month to doodle, sketch and draw whatever takes your fancy in a local pub.
Perhaps you feel more kinship with Defoe than Da Vinci? Well, Colchester has a veritable abundance of writers (check out local authors Vanessa Streete, Alex Clare and James Henry, among others) and writing groups. Colchester Scribblers holds regular meet-ups: Whether it's poetry or prose, non-fiction or total fantasy, the group is for anyone wanting to share and workshop writing with like minded people. WriteNight is another gathering of creative writers from all walks of life who meet on the fourth Monday of every month at 7:30pm at Firstsite. Why? Because it's fun to write together, they say!
Were you top of the class in woodwork in school? Love nothing more than hammering in a few nails? Then find your creative kicks with The Colchester Sheds and Garden Project, or perfect the art of forming objects from a rough piece of wood into something beautiful using a lathe and tools at Colchester Woodturners.
Get crafty with any one of several groups, including Orchard Crafters in CO2, and Elim Church's craft and design group in CO4. Wimpole Road Church and Hythe Community Centre often hold 'crafternoons' too, with card-making, jewellery-making, felt craft, paper quilling and much more on the menu!
Mosiac Poetry is the group you need in your life if spoken word and rhyme is your bag, and if you're snap-happy then Colchester Creative Shots aims to provide a forum where members can enjoy the benefits of a club environment whilst promoting the art of photography, no matter what their interest or level of expertise. And, wow, we haven't even touched on the dance, music and theatre groups our town hosts too!
And finally, if you're a woman who would like dip their toe in the creative waters in a supportive and nurturing environment then be sure to look up the Women's Huddle Brunch event on June 3rd: Creative Woman - Part II.
Whatever you prefer to do to fulfill your creative side, savour it, find like-minded people to share the experience with and prioritise it as a little bit of self-care!
P.S. If you've created something you'd like to share, why not publish it to The Creative Weekly, Colchester's community arts scrapbook for all things creative and let the world (well, the CO postcode area, at least!) see your work!