making things

Making things is good for your wellbeing. Doing something which brings tangible results makes you feel better. Most work these days doesn’t do the same.

Throughout my life, I’ve noticed that whenever I have been in crisis I have turned to making or doing something where I could see a tangible result. It might have been home decoration, chopping firewood or building something, but it always involved toil and product.

Making things is good for the soul. (If ‘soul’ is a turn-off for you and you want something more tangible, how about ‘sense of self’ or ‘identity’?)

Work is increasingly about using the mind and activities that don’t engage us physically. When we do manual work it is often automated and with little of what can be called craftsmanship (this is a gender-neutral expression to convey a set of skills or talent for making things). There’s skill involved in both, but it’s hard to derive personal pride or any real sense of achievement from sitting in an office or standing in a shop.

Results you can feel

Making things brings unique benefits. While there’s no doubting the sense of achievement of closing a sale (been there), or completing a written project (done that), or crunching a pile of numbers into meaningful information (and that too), work that involves the body as well as the mind is more fulfilling and satisfying.

I don’t mean to devalue number-crunching, writing or providing important services. They are all important, but they are not enough. We’ve evolved to forge a path through life and in so doing shape our identity through the tangible and visible results of our efforts.

At one time, ‘work’ almost aways involved doing or making things. We’d be able to see the results of our efforts. With luck, we’d also have derived benefit from the care, attention and skill we’d employed.

When in doubt, make something. It’s great therapy.

I’m a psychologist, coach, and therapist. All my work is aimed at enabling people to improve personal aspects of their lives and work.



  1. Linda Newman December 17, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    I agree 100%. Sometimes it is an effort to make myself “do” something creative but always feel better afterwards. Feeling really down today about the direction most of our “leaders” are taking us in. Hypocritical on all counts and short-sighted verging on blindness. Think I’ll go bake a cake.

  2. bwinbolt December 18, 2015 at 9:25 am

    Thanks for your comment. The pleasure of baking AND of eating the cake. I hope it helped.

  3. catherine powell May 4, 2018 at 5:17 am

    Yes, thank you for this. It is good to ‘get out of your head’ to put it simply. I will find myself de-cluttering or cleaning which is physical and seems to de-clutter my mind as well; but on most occasions when I am in a bad spot I grab my camera gear and go for a drive by the ocean or in search of something interesting.

    • Barry Winbolt May 6, 2018 at 6:41 am

      Thanks for your comment Catherine. There was a time in my life when photography saved my sanity as well.

      De-cluttering can be a great way to clear the mind, and I’ve often recommended it as a therapeutic task to clients. I haven’t thought about it in a while, and I feel a post coming on… thanks again.

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