Chiaki Creates

Vintage fashion, old films, literature, cats, the human mind, art, design and crafts. Oh, and writing.


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How to beat depression and get back on track

Chiaki Creates - How To Beat Depression and Get Back on Track chiakicreates.comYou probably know by now that I’ve struggled with depression, anxiety and panic attacks my whole life. After all these years, the most crucial thing that I’ve learnt when it comes to depression is that only you can make yourself better. I’ve worked incredibly hard for a very long time to be able to say that my life is really rather wonderful right now. I’ve also learnt the importance of staying vigilant and to not let your guard down under any circumstances.

At the end of November last year I was at the bottom of a dark well (metaphorically of course) when all of a sudden, everything fell apart. I found myself with no job, no money, no partner, not as many friends as I thought I had, and also eventually with no home. Yet, despite being completely broken and absolutely terrified, I managed to put my life back together again. With the support of my wonderful family and fantastic friends, who I can’t thank enough, I got through it. And that’s what’s been going on behind the scenes.

Once again, depression is in the news. We can never educate people enough about mental health and my hope is that reading this will help someone find the strength to carry on. Depression isn’t something that you can just ”snap out of”. It’s a very serious, very frightening illness. It becomes a part of you. Beating it requires extremely hard work but it’s so worth it in the end. Here are the things that I did that got me back on track.

Focus on looking after yourself
Don’t beat yourself up about not doing what you ”should” be doing. It can wait. You need to focus on caring for yourself right now. Let’s cover the basics first because you need to stay alive. Eat healthy food. Make sure you eat even if you can only stomach a little or certain types of food. Drink plenty of fluids. Drink green tea as it’s full of antioxidants. Take multivitamins. Go for long walks. Practise mindfulness. Do yoga. Make sure you go outside every day. Get as much sleep as possible. Your body and mind need it to be able to recover. Only take sleeping tablets if you really have to and only for a very short period of time as they are highly addictive.

Get it out of your system
Talk to your friends and family, your GP, a counsellor, online friends, strangers, Samaritans, cats, anyone. Talk until you’re tired of talking about it. Cry as much as you need to. Write down your thoughts and feelings. Expressing yourself will help you heal.

Write lists
Start a new notebook. This will be your ‘sorting out notebook’. Start by writing a list of what you want out of life, however outrageous. Then write a list of the steps you need to take to get there. Break them down into smaller steps and do one little thing each day until you feel well enough to do two, then three, then four and so on. Stop making excuses; do all those things that you’ve always wanted to do but never get round to. Write a list of all the good things in your life and highlight the good things about the situation you’re in. This is also where you write your emergency lists such as a list of all the people you can contact if you’re having a particularly bad day.

Do loads of fun things, laugh and celebrate
Watch and listen to loads of comedy. Go to stand-up gigs. Listen to music every day. Dance the Charleston and the Twist. Sing loudly. Read P.G. Wodehouse. Say yes. Try new things. Keep a ‘good things’ jar. Throw a dinner party. Go see some art. Eat out. Go to the pictures. Celebrate every little achievement. Celebrate being alive. For more ideas read 50 things to do when you need cheering up.

Get some perspective
If you’re able to, go away for a while. It will do you the world of good. You can’t get away from your inner struggles and worries, but you can get some perspective and figure out where to go from here. Distance can be a marvellous thing.

Surround yourself with supportive, loving people
Reach out to people and ask for help when you’re struggling. It can be extremely difficult but remember that asking for help does not mean that you’re a weak person. Some people will not be there for you when you need help but that’s okay. When you’re in pain, you will find out who your real friends are and that’s a very good thing. Keep in touch with people. Get out and see people as much as possible. Make new friends. Join a book club or a craft group. Make plans and look forward to things. Also, be kind to everyone. You never know who might end up becoming a vital part of your life.

Change things
“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” I’m with Andy Warhol on this one. Sitting around doing nothing doesn’t change a thing. Time passing is only time passing. Sometimes bad things happen to make room for better things but if you don’t like something, you need to change it. If you can’t, accept that you can’t change it and instead change your attitude towards it. It’s difficult but it can be done.

Treat yourself lots
You need to be super kind to yourself right now. Do relaxing things and treat yourself as much as possible. Buy yourself a box of expensive chocolates. Make pancakes for breakfast. Take a bubble bath in candlelight. Share a drink or a cuppa and a laugh with a friend. Buy yourself a bouquet of flowers. Wear your prettiest clothes. Change your hair. Buy some new art and crafts supplies. Use the nice china every day. Watch feel-good films. Have a large piece of chocolate cake in a pâtisserie. Soak up the sunshine. Fall in love with your city/town all over again. Go see a play or a musical in the theatre. Read books that make you smile. Cook your favourite dishes.

Seek inspiration
Literature, blogs, music, films, art, nature, people, animals. Inspiration is everywhere. Be open to everything that comes your way and actively seek out things that will stimulate your mind and get your imagination going. Variation is key to creativity and exposing yourself to new things will get your creative juices flowing.

Create stuff
Art is therapeutic. It makes you grow as a human being and it can even help you understand yourself better. Try a new medium and learn a new skill. Channelling your feelings and what is happening to you into making stuff will have a purifying effect and help you move forward.


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Birthday wish list

Chiaki Creates - Birthday Wish List chiakicreates.comSilk chiffon maxi dress // Issa
Stockholm bedside table // Ikea
My Simple Figures art prints by Anton Marrast // Society6
Kremla tumblers // Ikea
Kansha: Celebrating Japan’s Vegan and Vegetarian Traditions by Elizabeth Andoh
Rosemary’s Baby tannis root necklace // sirenasirena on Etsy

I’m turning 30 in two weeks. It’s a major event, right? Well, for me it’s not the Birthday itself that’s important, but being older and wiser. Over the last 8 months I’ve been doing some proper soul-searching and I feel like I’m going to enter my thirties as a new, improved me. I feel calm and confident and content. Things are falling into place. I can’t wait to leave my twenties behind and to find out what adventures my thirties have in store!


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How to write the perfect to-do list

Chiaki Creates - How To Write The Perfect To-Do List chiakicreates.comLet’s start with a couple of reasons why you should write to-do lists in the first place. When we write something down, we send a signal to our brain that it no longer has to remember the thing that we wrote down. This means that we’re free to focus on more productive things than ‘remembering to pick up a loaf of bread from the shops’. Crossing things off a list makes us feel good and our mind loves the rush of completing all our tasks.

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that I have very strict rules when it comes to my daily to-do lists. The reason I’m strict is that I want to eliminate as much stress as possible from my daily life. I’m a very organised woman but I’m also emotionally driven so if I don’t fancy doing something, it just won’t get done. Even though I know that things one dread are rarely as bad as one imagines that they will be, sometimes I still can’t bring myself to do something that I really don’t want to do. I tend to give myself a treat, e.g. a matinée screening or a new book when I’ve done something that I was particularly dreading. I highly recommend it.

Creating routines is important because it makes us feel safe. The first thing on my list is always yoga. I get up around 7.30am every day and do my yoga first thing. Then I write and read for a bit, and have breakfast before I get on with my day. When it comes to writing my to-do list, here are the things that I’ve found work for me.

Write next day’s to-do list in the evening
That way you won’t have all of next day’s tasks in your head, stressing you out when you’re trying to sleep.

Only write things down that have to be done the next day
Don’t write anything down that you ‘should’ be doing but can do another day. This may sound like procrastination but it’s not. You want to be as productive as possible and therefore you want less things on your to-do list so that you will be able to complete all of them.

Highlight things that need to be prioritised
Things that are the most important should be done first with exception of things that fall into the category below.

If something on your list takes less than 10 minutes to do, do it straight away
For example telephone calls and emails. Get them over and done with. Crossing multiple things off the list quickly will motivate you to carry on.

Use specific terms and break tasks down into smaller ones
Again, this motivates you to get things done so don’t be vague.

Never put more than 3 big tasks on your list
You can put smaller parts of a big task on the list if you really need to, but be careful not to put too many big tasks on the list.

Don’t put more than 10 things on your list
A long to-do list overwhelms you and puts you in a state of paralysis. Our mind fixates on the uncompleted tasks and causes us distress. There’s even a name for this; the Zeigarnik effect.

Estimate how long each task will take and make sure to give yourself extra time
It’s far too easy to misjudge time only to end up with loads of things that you didn’t have time to do. Things go wrong, things turn up and things change, so allow extra time.

When possible, delegate
Can someone else do any of the tasks?

If you’re really not in the mood, put the list aside and do something fun for a while
Take a whole day off if you need to.

Focus on doing one thing at a time and take regular breaks
In reality, trying to multitask takes longer than doing one thing at a time. We can’t focus on things for too long and we do really need breaks, and lots of them.

If you still have tasks left on your to-do list by 8pm, scratch it and write next day’s list
Set a time limit that suits you but it shouldn’t be any later than 8pm. Your mind needs rest so you can be productive the next day.


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What I see in the mirror

Chiaki Creates - What I See In the Mirror chiakicreates.comThe Guardian does this wonderful series where they ask famous people what they see in the mirror. I find it very interesting to hear how people perceive themselves so I figured I’d write one myself.

When I look in the mirror, I see a woman who simply refuses to give up; a woman who has fought hard for everything she’s got. I never used to think that I look particularly Scandinavian but now I’m embracing my Viking blood.

Like most Swedes my natural hair colour is dark blonde, but I’ve been dyeing it different colours for almost 18 years now. I’ve always wanted naturally red hair.

I get my green eyes from my mum (my brother has them as well) and my pale, transparent skin from my dad. From my dad I also get my long legs and arms. No one in my family knows where my nose comes from and I’ve never met anyone with a nose quite like mine.

I have a bump on my nose from when my first boyfriend broke it when I was 13. It was my first encounter with a psychopath, and having studied psychology I don’t use that term lightly. On my face, I also see scars from a lip piercing and a vertical earl piercing as well as a scar by the corner of my left eye and on the bridge of my nose from two childhood accidents. Mind you, none of these bother me, they remind me of the fact that I’m alive.

I like my crooked smile. I’m always smiling more on one side of my face. I used to avoid smiling when I was younger because I was horrifically self-concious about my less than straight teeth, but with age I’ve found that I care less and less about it. Same thing with wearing makeup. I used to hate what I looked like without makeup to the point where I wouldn’t let people take photos of me au natural, but I just cannot be bothered to put it on every day anymore. I have grown to like my face without makeup.

With age I’ve become quite comfortable in my own skin. I love my hourglass figure; my defined waist. I’m 170 cm (5′ 7″) and I wouldn’t change it if I could. I like my body. It looks good and it works well, especially considering that walking, practising yoga and dancing is the most strenuous exercise that it gets.

Now I’m challenging you to do the same. Write down what you see in the mirror. It’s a good exercise. Do let me know if you write one as I would love to read yours!


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August goals

Chiaki Creates - August Goals chiakicreates.com○ Have business cards printed.

○ Plan my 30th Birthday celebrations.

○ Go to more music gigs and Cave Club. Dance more.

○ Visit a couple of exhibitions.

○ Start watching more films again.

○ Go through all my belongings and sell everything that I don’t use.

○ Re-read a couple of Jeeves and Wooster books.

○ Go swimming in the ponds on Hampstead Heath with my dear friend Rika.

○ Make more bento.

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