Tag: Mental Health

Crafting a Calming Corner to Assuage Parent and Child

Anyone out there have perfect emotionally balanced children? I’m definitely not raising my hand to that one. In fact, we have nicknamed my daughter’s alter ego as “the hulk” because, while she’s normally such a docile sweet child, you better watch out when something gets to her. When she gets angry, you can hear the stomping and huffing from the other side of the house. Given my human service field, I’ve always talked to my girls about their emotions. Even so, my little hulk really struggled with controlling herself when she became escalated. There came a day when she actually asked if we could create a calming corner for her to fight off her anger. I was all for it because it would be a great way to help her learn the important skill of self-regulation.

Calming Corner Benefits

Self-Awareness and Self-Management: Calm down corners help children to practice identifying feelings and emotions to better manage stress, self-regulate and control their impulses. Having a space designed to support them emotionally and physically helps them feel safe and comfortable, allowing them to let down their guard to process different feelings.

Relationship Skills: Learning how to communicate one’s feelings and emotions can be difficult, but calming spaces such as this help children practice mindfulness and develop skills they need to identify their emotions and communicate them when necessary. Stronger communication skills help them form stronger relationships with others and develop skills in empathy.

Action for Healthy Kids

Calming Corner Seating Choice

First things first, seating. You could obviously choose a regular chair if that’s what you have on hand. I think a calming corner needs something soft and cushioning. I opted to knock out three birds with this one stone. We had stuffed animals galore and were running out of space, so it was a perfect time to use a Pinterest pin I’d saved long ago. I used Googie Momma’s via Thread Riding Hood pattern for a stuffed animal chair. I’m a true lover of budget-friendly projects, so I chose to use material from some curtains I’d made for our previous house. (This is exactly why I find it so hard to get rid of anything, you never know when you might come up with a way to repurpose it.)

I was able to dive into my creative mental space (check out Crafting my Mental Health Regimen), make a stuffed animal storage space saver, and a chair for the calming corner all in one go! I couldn’t believe how many stuffed animals this chair housed. Such a win!

Other DIY Options

Here are some other easy DIY Bean bag chairs to try: 

DIY: Sew a Kids Bean Bag Chair in 30 Minutes

DIY Bean Bag Chair

Child Size Bean Bag Chair -DIY Video Tutorial

Curtain to Limit Stimulation

I happened to have a bed curtain, so I used it as the curtain for this space. I considered making one (of course), but my daughter said she liked this see-through one.

There are other ways to make a private space. Here’s one from She Builds Her Home using a curved shower curtain rod.

Stocking Your Calming Corner

A calming corner isn’t much of a space with out something to distract them from the emotional overload. Thankfully, with all the recent trends, we had a good stock of fidgets, squishies, spinners, etc. to stock her little shelf of distractions. She also put a whiteboard and marker for drawing. Check out Mindful Amazing for some great printables to stock in the calming corner. A weighted blanket or weighted stuffed animal would be a great add as well. How about some simple craft kits?! 

We didn’t go much beyond that but depending on the child, you might consider all the other senses. Noise-canceling headphones or a soothing sound machine for the child who tends to overload on auditory stimulation. A visual distraction, like a light machine or glitter bottle, would be another great option. For olfactory, an oil diffuser or scented lotions would work. There are really so many possibilities. To garner buy-in from a resistant child, let them decide what to put there.

Creating the calming corner together doesn’t mean they are automatically going to choose to go there when it becomes necessary, so be prepared to reinforce using it when needed. My hulk was super resistant when using the corner was necessary. Take one tantrum at a time to stay sane. 

For more resources on self-regulation, check out Child Mind Institute’s “How Can We Help Kids with Self-Regulation?

Crafting my Mental Health Regimen

“How much longer are you going to be?”, “Why are you starting another project when you haven’t finished the other one?”, “When do you think you will be able to clean up your tools?”, and the list goes on of the questions I’m asked when I’m doing my crafting thing. Up until more recently, I found it very difficult to just sit without purpose. While watching tv with the hubby after a long day, I wanted to multitask that time by planning a birthday party, making a cardboard mailbox, pinning a sewing project, drawing up a woodworking plan or scrapbooking. Anything to keep my mind engaged in that way. On occasion, I also acknowledge I might switch from one project to another midstream because another idea inserted itself into my mental focus. I didn’t realize this could be related to my mental health maintenance.

Baking for my mental health

The Creative Mind

When an idea enters my mind, it lingers there and nags at me. Some of those eventually dissipate into memory and some hang on for dear life until I make them a reality. Those are the ones that plague and prod me to action even when I don’t have the time. I admittedly considered myself to be pretty poor at practicing self-care. I’m not one of those moms or women who do much shopping for myself and very rarely get my hair done or get a massage. I don’t frequent the nail salon and actually went a solid 2 or 3 years without going into one. For a time, I hadn’t read a book for years, because I didn’t think I had the time for it. I tried to purposefully take care of my physical and mental health, but often focused more on my family’s needs.

The Overactive Mind

When we moved into our new house 5 years ago, my mission to produce went into hyperdrive. A newly built blank slate. A DIYers dream. We didn’t paint for the first year to allow for the builders to fix all the nail pops and such. It was downright painful for me to abide. By the third year, almost everything was as we wanted. Our kids’ schedules were then taking over the calendar between travel soccer, travel softball, dance, play rehearsal, basketball, lacrosse, band, gymnastics, etc, etc. This ended up meaning there were periods where I wasn’t able to create anything. During those times, you would have instead heard me telling my husband, “I just don’t feel like myself”. My mental health was suffering.

Tools for my mental health

I was drawn to work on projects when I had a few seconds between making lunch and doing dishes. I would find myself sneaking away to get another coat of polyurethane on the antique hutch while the kids were playing. It wasn’t just for the purpose of getting it to the finish line but also to focus my mind; to sort through my mental mess. It was my catharsis.

Woodworking for my mental health

One day, I decided to do a quick Google search. I came across this article which ended up being my lightbulb moment. Having been in the mental and behavioral field for over a decade, I was surprised at how late the realization hit me as to why I was drawn to it. I knew of the many benefits of art therapy but had never applied it to my own mental health.

The Benefits of Sewing and Crafting for Mental Health

“Crafting, sewing or woodworking help you reduce negative emotions and stress by allowing you to create unique pieces of art. For example, woodworking is one of the most effective form of art therapy in the world, because it combines strategies for planning, , getting the supplies, planning your cut list, measuring, cutting, painting.”….and that explains my addiction


Self Care

So whereas I believed myself to be inadequate at self-care, it seemed I was doing it in the best way I knew how. I realized my me-time was hiding away with my thoughts and a paintbrush in my hand. There’s a sort of peace in concentrating on something you enjoy. There’s also fulfillment in seeing your own ability to create something that maybe only you will love. (Although, I always shoot for others liking it too.)

I also like to share the end products of my me time to inspire. I want to show others really anything is possible if you put your mind to it. I’m frequently asked if I sleep, to which I answer, “Definitely. I can’t go without it.” Now that doesn’t mean I don’t have episodes of insomnia that provide me with a bit of extra time to squeeze in some tasks, but generally, I just make time for the things that matter to me.

How Do You Spend Your Free Time?

We all have choices to make on how we use our time and energy. Some have more abundant energy than others or are selective in what they put the energy towards. Maybe I innately have more energy than some others. Or maybe I choose to put it first towards my family, towards my full-time job and then to the things I see as valuable. I see value in activating my mind in creating.

I had been considering starting a blog for some time and got a bit stuck on the name. After this little revelation, I settled on a name that fits the way creating helps me de-stress and stay sane and reinforces the importance of keeping tabs on the status of your mental health. So go forth and craft to benefit your mental health! Try something simple like refinishing frames.

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