Calligraphy 'can combat anxiety and improve wellbeing' a study finds June 12, 2019 12:20

The ancient art of calligraphy can combat anxiety, improve wellbeing and boost self-esteem, a study has revealed. 76% of people found calligraphy to be a ‘distraction tool’.

It's an activity that is surging in popularity, and even comes with a Royal seal of approval as one of the Duchess of Sussex’s favourite hobbies.

And now a new study shows that the ancient art of calligraphy can combat anxiety, improve wellbeing and boost self-esteem.

A research team from University College London (UCL) surveyed nearly 50,000 people about the positive effects of calligraphy and similar creative hobbies. 

The team found that 76% of people who enjoyed such activities found them to be a ‘distraction tool’ to block out anxiety, 69% of participants took up a creative hobby as a way to make themselves more confident, and just over half used it as a ‘contemplation tool’.

The Duchess of Sussex took up freelance calligraphy to make ends meet between acting jobs, before she found fame in TV legal drama Suits and long before she met Prince Harry. She designed wedding invitations for Hollywood stars and also taught the art.

Professional calligrapher Jenni Liandu also makes a living from it and finds that the craft relieves her stress. She said: ‘I became addicted to calligraphy because I found it to be so therapeutic.

I think the repetitive movements, rhythm and changes in pressure all cause me to completely forget everything else in the moment and simply enjoy the creativity. It’s a very relaxing and peaceful practice

'In my workshops, there are a number of people who have said it has really helped them get through a time of physical illness or a death in the family.

Senior research fellow Dr Daisy Fancourt, who led the UCL research, said: ‘This study is the first to show the cognitive strategies the brain uses to regulate our emotions when we’re taking part in creative activities.’

Calligraphy has also been shown to reduce the symptoms of psychosis. Researchers in Taiwan showed how Chinese calligraphy therapy sessions help the brain work better, relieve depression and combat schizophrenia.

Crafts have grown in popularity over recent years and 20 per cent more people indulge in art as a hobby than three years ago.

Britain has long been a nation of knitters, and other textile crafts such as embroidery and crocheting are also being discovered by a new generation of devotees.