When you are dealing with feelings of depression or anxiety they can be overwhelming, controlling your every thought and move. They drain you of hope, energy, and motivation, leaving you exhausted and emotional.

Although you may find yourself tempted to remain in bed, hiding away from the world and left to ruminate over the thoughts that are occupying your mind, many experts recommend that you find something enjoyable that will keep your hands busy and take your mind off the negative energies that you are experiencing.

Looking to provide those who may currently be fighting this battle with some support and suggestions, BuzzFeed decided to ask the members of their community to share the projects that they have created out of their own mental health struggles. They received a multitude of answers, a selection of which we have shared below.

Here are 30 different ideas of creative ways you can manage your depression or anxiety. Allow these great ideas to inspire and encourage you to find your own passion!

  1. “After losing my kidney transplant and getting my heart broken by my cheating boyfriend, I went into a deep depression. I was so angry and sad I could barely get out of bed. The only thing I can credit to getting out of that dark hole was my tears – my pillow tears. I thought instead of crying about it, I would make literal tears out of fabric and embroidery, each one with a different message. After I would finish each one I felt liberated.”

  1. “Pepper is my 3-year-old Belgian Malinois service dog who I rescued from a shelter and then trained with the help of a trainer. When I met her I was in deep depression, had anxiety and bipolar disorder, and was suicidal. Pepper is the reason I am alive; she gave me a reason to live. Her training gave me a purpose when I had none and now gives me freedom. I actually want to leave my house more. I still have trouble every day, but with her I can live again instead of just being there. She is everything to me, my best friend, my rock, my teacher, my savior and my heart. The absolute greatest thing to ever happen to me is her.””

  1. “I’m a photographer and I always found doing self-portraits as a way to deal with my depression and anxiety. I’m able to escape reality for a moment in time.”

  1. “I take forgotten chairs off the side of the road and re-upholster them into something new and beautiful. And it makes me feel amazing… I haven’t done this year but I’ve always wanted to bring the chair back to where I found it so whoever threw it out could see that things that look like they’re on their last leg still have much life left in them, possibly a brighter one. Because it really helps me.”
  1. “I weaved a dress out of magazine pages (complete with fairy lights) during the nights when my anxiety wouldn’t let me sleep. Wore it to a fancy dress party that I would have never been able to get to if I had have to leave the house to buy something to wear.”

  1. “This is a poster I painted two years ago. It was a really difficult day for me to go through, but I still have it in my room and looking at it every night it gives me peace.”

  1. “I usually sit outside with my dog and pot seedlings for hours, just taking my time relaxing and focusing on the little seedlings. After they’ve been outside growing for awhile it’s like a proud parent moment – you’ve seen them since they were tiny seedlings and now they’ve grown up to full blossoming plants.”

  1. “Leaving university and being unemployed with no routine brought back my anxiety big-time. I needed something to keep my mind and my hands busy one day, so I made soy wax candles and used essential oils to scent them. I found picking the essential oil blends really relaxing and watching the wax melt each time really therapeutic. I spent hours making them and a whole day had passed without me being worried/anxious/nervous/panicked. The candles are pretty gorgeous to light, too.”

  1. “I made this bracelet out of candy wrappers at a party to cope with my social anxiety. It ended up being a good idea, since people started giving me their spare wrappers because they thought it was cool, and I didn’t have to stress about coming up with topics of conversation.”

  1. “I enjoy going outside, finding a smooth rock by the river, and making these designs on them. It forces me to go outside and walk, and then the freestyle artwork becomes very therapeutic as well.”

  1. “I have severe depression and anxiety, self-harm tendencies, low self-esteem, and terrible body image. With summer coming up, it becomes harder to hide my scars. Being a plus-size girl, I don’t have many options in stores that will fit, be flattering, fun, and fashionable, and cover what I need covered. So I’ve started drawing clothes that I want to make and wear this summer. It gives me something creative to plan and look forward to, and I find coloring my sketches digitally to be pretty meditative. By drawing pictures of myself, I’m trying to work toward seeing my body in a different, more positive light, but that’s a long way off yet. I’m pretty happy with how this picture’s turned out, though, and I’m hopeful that I can find the motivation to make it real.”

  1. “I make lots of my peg dolls to combat depression/anxiety. It’s a nice thing to do with my hands and keep me occupied.”

  1. “Everything in my Etsy shop is a product of my mental illness, whether directly or indirectly. I battled for years with depression and anxiety and I was diagnosed as having borderline personality disorder a few years ago. After having my son, I felt useless, like I as a person has ceased to exist, that I was just a conduit for my son to receive food and care and comfort. Making things became my way of reassuring myself I still mattered and that, no matter how bad things got, I was still capable of making the world a little better with the things I created.”

  1. “Going for runs and making it to the top of the mountain and feeling on top of the world gives me relief from my anxiety.”

  1. “I have been battling both anxiety and depression for the past four years, probably longer. About two or three years ago I started designing rooms on RoomStyler and eventually moved on to making houses on Sketchup. I have had no training or anything, just stuff I have learned from the internet, but I am proud of my little designs.”

  1. “I write poetry to calm down from anxiety. Trying to articulate my thoughts about all of the swirling chaos helps me to begin to understand all of the strange panic that is happening internally. My chest tightens and my body is entirely rigid, but focusing on picking the right words helps me breathe. I usually write in rhyming couplets because the energy it takes to coordinate the following lines with the preceding rhyme and the meter helps shift my focus.”
  1. “I play with fire. Specifically, I do lamp work; I sit in front of a 2,000-degree flame and melt glass. Destructive and creative at the same time. It puts me in a zone where I HAVE to focus (or risk getting burned), which banishes the depression demons for a short while. Did this vessel just before starting meds.”

 

  1. “One miscarriage and an emotionally abusive relationship later, I was able to translate the isolation into an image.”

  1. “I haven’t created a ‘thing’ as such, but I am in the process of creating a new, more educated me. I decided to use my struggle to help others like myself. Next year I’ll be a qualified counselor, changing the lives of people with mental health issues, using my own terrible experience to help better the lives of others living through the same thing.”
  1. “Sometimes when I’m at work and depressed/having too many feelings I like to go outside and draw things I see on the street. Drawing makes me feel like I’m in control, and it forces me to find some solace in the weird beauty of the physical world. Also, I’ve realized that 10 minutes of sunshine actually legitimately kind of helps.”

  1. “When my depression and anxiety was at its worst, I discovered two things. The first was that I could draw, something I didn’t really realize till that point. And also that drawing took enough concentration that it would stop my anxious thoughts for at least a little while.”

  1. “I created my life. Through everything I deal with, I have used art in multiple manners such as painting and photography and created a career built on my passion for photo. However, even when I was wanting to end it all, I was able to create a life. I wanted to die, to never see the light again; when the light came I went straight through it and came up with something brighter. I built relationships with my family and friends that helped me build my self again. I molded my path in a way that worked for me not having to bob and twist for others. I created myself as I wanted to be. The outcome has been happiness, and although I still deal with my mental illness, I have been able to control it like an artist uses a brush to control paint. And even if your life is as messy and sporadic as a Jackson Pollock, it is still beautiful, and someone out there is going to see the beauty in you as well.”
  1. “Photography (particularly film) forces me to slow down, breathe, think about my surroundings and focus on being present. Whenever I feel anxious or depressed, I go outside and start shooting. It calms me down, centres me, and I get to create something beautiful out of the monster that is my mental illness.”

  1. “Started wire wrapping arrowheads my boyfriend made to combat anxiety. I find having something to do with my hands really helps me relax!”

  1. “I have struggled with anxiety and depression my whole life. I used to be basically locked into my own world of despair. Three years ago, I volunteered at a local haunted house and started learning makeup. While I’m still far from the best, learning this new skill has helped improve EVERYTHING in my life, even my relationship with my boyfriend. Now I refuse to hide from the world, and enjoy creating new characters that capture this. This is a body paint I did last April. I consider it my best turn so far. I look forward more to learning and improving my craft and it’s given me something to be proud of and live for.”

  1. “I had a physically and emotionally devastating miscarriage and my life kinda fell apart. I embroidered cream-and-white tulips that mean purity, new life, and ‘I will love you forever’ in memory of my baby. During the hours I worked on it, I grieved, cried, and let my mind go blank and my feelings go numb just to rest. I keep this folded up, and every once in a while I take it out and look at it and make myself remember that I’ve survived some awful times and there’s good in life and I can make it.”

  1. “When nothing picks me up, all I need to pick up is a whisk and start baking!”

  1. “I have had anxiety and depression for years. During a particularly rough bout of depression my junior year of college my boyfriend and I collaborated on a photography project to visually depict our lives with these illnesses. It was a deeply cathartic experience for both of us; creating an honest depiction of a misunderstood part of myself enabled a shift in how we talked about it and managed it moving forward.”

  1. “I made this to remind myself what I really am.”

  1. “I crocheted these harlequins and plan to make a blanket out of them. It’s not the perfect medicine, but it helps with my anxiety and depression. It’s the sense of accomplishment that gets me going and made me feel a little bit better. Though I’m not sure if the blanket will be mine, since Kiwi is so eager to use it.”

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