Learn how to relax with paper: Origami exercises

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Learn some simple techniques for relaxation with these easy origami exercises that you can do at home, on the move, or at your desk. Master these origami techniques and a simple piece of paper can hold the key for you to access a peaceful and calm state of mind.

We live in stressful times.

Healthcare systems around the world have striven to respond to COVID-19. Understandably primary focus is on treating people affected by the virus. But healthcare experts are warning that there is a growing mental health crisis building up.

Pandemic living has been a stressor: anxiety, depression, fear and stress all reported to be rising over the last year.

The good news is that we can manage our growing anxiety or stress levels by learning a few simple relaxation techniques.

Learn a few simple techniques to gain back your power

Learning a few go-to exercises – whether breathing, meditating or affirmations – can help a lot in moments of stress or anxiety.

Did you know that there’s another go-to technique that can really help in stressful or high-anxiety situations? It’s the mindful Japanese art of paper folding, or origami.

Origami is simple to learn. It’s very accessible. You need minimal resources – just a sheet of office paper, or perhaps a used train ticket or an old magazine will suffice. It’s a brilliant way to be in the moment and practice mindfulness. And it offers access to another brilliant stress buster – because it’s a great conversation starter.

Learn one or more of these simple origami exercises and we’re sure that you’ll return to the gentle art of paper folding again and again.

#1. The Crane

The crane – or orizuru – is probably the best-known origami design. It was made famous as a symbol of peace when Sadako Sasaki (1943– 1955), a young girl who was exposed to radiation in Hiroshima, folded paper cranes in hope of making a full recovery from leukaemia and raise awareness about the city’s experience.

You can find online instructions to make an origami paper crane here: https://origami.me/crane/

Once you’ve mastered the technique, why not share your crane as part of the ongoing and international peace crane project? Find out more here: https://peacecraneproject.org/

It also offers downloadable folding guides on its website in three languages: https://peacecraneproject.org/downloads/folding-guides/

#2. The frog

Taking some more animal inspiration, the frog is another brilliantly simple piece of origami. This one offers a real sense of satisfaction because, if you use the right paper, it even gives the impression of jumping.

You can find folding instructions for this project on the BBC website, which also recommends adding some googly eyes to your origami for extra effect. However, you can add eyes with a biro or marker if you don’t have crafting supplies to hand.

Find the folding instructions here: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/how-make-origami-frog

#3. The cup

Another simple origami exercise you can easily master and learn is the origami paper cup.

Being paper, it’s not ideal for using as a cup, but you could certainly use it to tidy up paper clips or other small items on your desk!

You can find simple instructions online here: https://www.unimelb.edu.au/accessibility/origami-exercise-1-with-pictures

#4. The butterfly

The butterfly is super simple and produces a really attractive piece of origami. With just a single square sheet of paper and a few folds and you can create quite a work of art.

Find instructions online here: https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/easy-origami-butterfly-tutorial-2540970

If you have craft supplies to hand and you love the mindfulness of coloring, you could even unfold your butterfly, add symmetrical coloring to the wings and then refold for a really beautiful origami butterfly.

Why not make a few and stick them to your wall or window to brighten up your desk space and your day?

#5. The fortune teller

You may well remember this simple piece of origami from your school playground or classroom. Also known as a cootie catcher, it isn’t only an easy-to-learn origami exercise, it’s also a fun game to play with others.

You can find folding instructions on the Spruce Crafts website here: https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/make-an-origami-cootie-catcher-4121204

Make sure you add some amusing predictions or fun forfeits in the middle sections so you can share another great medicine for beating stress and anxiety: laughter with friends.

Ready for more relaxing paper projects?

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