As we are spending more and more time indoors, we're sharing a series of articles about creativity in isolation to demonstrate how important the arts are to maintaining good mental wellbeing. We spoke to Helen Jessopp from Manx Litfest about a Facebook group that has emerged as a consequence of the pandemic.
I am Helen Jessopp, the Education Coordinator for Manx Litfest, and our fab committee have set up a Facebook group called Book Lovers Isolation Support Service (BLISS for short) for fellow readers of all ages to share their book recommendations, chat with fellow readers, and have an online literary community to turn to for some book-ish comforts in these uncertain times.
Reading is something that can bring people together. It's also a very comforting activity that can be done anywhere and at any time. In the absence of our in-person book clubs and writing groups, we felt it was important that the people of the Isle of Man found a place where they still could be in contact with other book lovers and share what they're reading. It's a fully inclusive community of readers, where anyone is welcome to come and share their book recommendations, and chat to other people who share their passion for reading.
More and more people are turning to the arts to keep themselves distracted, entertained and busy. Creativity is not restrained by location - anyone can find something creative to do in these times, and many people are finding them to be a huge benefit. Whether that is creating something new, reading an old favourite book, or listening to a loved piece of music, art is helping people to find meaning during their isolation.
There isn't one thing that I personally am doing - I am trying anything and everything I can think of. I've ordered so many books, I've ordered a mosaic set to have a go at, jigsaws and found new games to play online with friends. Staying in contact with people I love has been so important - I am isolating on my own and I have found it very hard being away from people.
I also started building myself a book fort, which I'm pretty proud of! But I'm also not beating myself up when I just sit and do nothing. We have to be kind to ourselves right now, and if self care means taking a day or two under the duvet, that's fine too!
Take the pressure off and just have fun. It is ok to keep trying new things until you find something that you enjoy. Engaging with creative activities isn't always about making something wonderful from scratch, it's about finding something that you find helpful to you, whether that's creating your own art, or enjoying someone else's.
We think Helen's book fort is a perfect use of time during isolation!