Coping strategies as we begin to return to more social contact and are vital in mental health recovery. Effective coping strategies empower you when you take note of and recognize what may trigger you in a crisis situation. When you have access to these strategies, it will give you a sense of control over some part of your life that otherwise may seem out of control.
For example, recognizing that stress is inevitable for everyone at some stage can help to normalize stressful situations. Furthermore, being aware of your response to stress and using more helpful options to manage that stress can help you move towards recovery. Good coping strategies lead to good Emotional Intelligence. Once you are aware of what stressors are most likely to trigger you, then you can start to work on your emotional response in an emotionally intelligent way.
In the workshops and sessions that I facilitate, clients are offered a variety of simple, yet effective strategies to help them cope with the ever changing landscape that we encounter as we navigate to our “new normal”.
Why Workplace Art Therapy?
A workplace art therapy program has benefits for both the employer and employee in that for the employer, it can fulfill their workplace health and wellbeing criteria, lower stress in employees as well as increasing productivity, creativity and performance.
Participating in a workplace art therapy program encompasses relaxation techniques and can be described as a preventative measure in addressing employee stress.
Staff and management alike can experience art therapy sessions as a part of a “Wellness in the Workplace” program that actively encourages mindfulness and creativity which has benefits beyond the session.
As the participants focus on any particular exercise, their conscious minds can be distracted from their daily tasks and demands of the job. When stress is reduced with a tailored art therapy and EI program, you can look forward to increased performance and achievement, better decision making and productivity.
How does it work?
Firstly, it would be necessary to discuss the length of a session or sessions; how many participants; their physical needs; and finally the venue itself. When working in a corporate environment, it is taken into account if the venue is most likely to be unsuited to having paint or clay used. It is also necessary to ascertain that there are no materials that may have an adverse effect (such as glues) on the health of the participants. Introductory sessions would include a guided meditation followed by doodling or Mandalas where there would be no prerequisite for artistic comparison.
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Have you been attuned to Reiki?
Too often practitioners neglect themselves, so I’ve put together a Reiki support program for practitioners at all levels. With stress levels at an all time high, it is vitally important that practitioners look after themselves.
What’s in the program?
It’s a private group where you will receive Reiki once a week at a set time and you are also invited to attend a monthly online group discussion and guided healing session. This is a safe place where you can re-focus your intentions and connection to the energy.
Open to all levels of practitioners from Level 1 to Teacher and from any lineage.
Using Art as a therapy during a time of grief allows you to express your thoughts, feelings and emotions. This can be done in a variety of non verbal ways such as painting, drawing or clay work.
Other non verbal ways of expression, such as journaling and letter writing that help define what the event or deceased person meant to you allow you to start the healing process.
Guided visualizations and Reiki can help relax you. As you allow the body and mind to relax you can begin to sort out conflicting emotions. Therefore by using art therapy activities, your healing takes place at a deeper level and many people find that they are better equipped to move forward.
Eastern traditions have long been more aware of a mind/body connection than the modern Western medical profession which has based much of their thinking on the theory put forward by Descartes who was a French philosopher in the 1600’s. He believed that the mind and body were separate entities which had no influence on the other.
Modern medicine is a reflection of this, and is shown by the desire to remove symptoms of an illness rather than addressing any underlying mental/emotional issues that could contribute to an illness. Compare this to traditional Eastern healing systems where illness is considered to be an imbalance in the energy (Qi or Chi) which in turn affects the mental/emotional and physical body systems.
Western science has since discovered that the impulses to the cells can be affected by either negative or positive thoughts, thus having an effect on things such as immunity and health. Previously thought to only be present in the brain, these neurotransmitters have been discovered in other major organs such as the heart and gut. A regular meditation practice can help to still the mind and help with general health. Checking in on your thoughts and changing or reframing them to a more positive attitude will also help. For instance if you find yourself saying “I should…….”, change the language to “I choose to……” and notice the difference.
The challenge of creating something that doesn’t add more stress to one’s life! Having printed out an outline of a heart to fill with words or lines to complete this five day challenge, I reached a blank. I was also at a stage where I had to meditate on the Heart Chakra and create a photo collage for an assignment in my current studies.. A challenge, to say the least, until I re-read the question. The photos could be of places, pets or words that elicited a heart felt response.
When looking up what the opposite of a challenge could mean, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the following words came up….agree, decide, win, answer, acceptance, peace … fitting in beautifully with the essence of working with the Heart Chakra. I was further amused when I consulted a text on Chakras to find that the hexagon (yesterday’s challenge) is its symbol.
As a result, the time selecting the photos for the assignment meant spending some time delving through old files. In addition, reflecting on why I chose each photo and explaining the emotional attachment took longer than expected. Unsurprisingly, many of the photos are of places that I’ve experienced a deep sense of peacefulness and belonging. Included is Lucy the labrador – representing the unconditional love that dogs exhibit to us. Because of the synchronicity of tasks, I have decided to use the photo collage rather than lines or words.
Day 4’s shape for the Five Day Challenge is the hexagon. A six sided figure, the hexagon is found in nature from bees to bubbles. In man made items such as nuts and bolts to tessellated tiles it is used. Snowflakes are based on the hexagon and perhaps the most easily recognizable group of hexagons are to be found on soccer balls.
Even items we use on a daily basis are constructed using the hexagon. Most pencils will have six sides…. go ahead and count if you doubt me! Modern use of the hexagon can be found with mobile phone towers constructed in a hexagonal grid – hence the term “cell phone”.
Today’s shape took a while to come together
I dusted off my compass and protractor and set about to construct a hexagon. After a couple of tries and much rubbing out of pencil lines, I eventually got the shape right. Then to fill the shape….. pleased with the pattern that emerged, I then allowed my conscious mind to take over. Big mistake. I thought that I would “improve” the pattern by colouring in using the chakra colours. From simple to dreadfully contrived in just a few minutes.
Take two…. now that I had the hang of constructing the hexagon, it was much easier to stay with a black line marker and see what transpired. With the addition of some compass work and very simple lines and shapes the following emerged. Perhaps I could add colour, but it was relaxing not to have to think about which to choose. It would be interesting to construct a series of hexagons and see what evolved from that.
From an Art Therapy point of view the benefits of “doodling” are that there are no preconceived ideas as to what the finished product will look like. It is a free form of expression and the shapes emerge from deep within the one’s psyche.
As it is a non verbal form of expression, the doodle literally can help you to “connect the dots”. It allows you to engage in sustained attention to a task without needing to create perfection or a recognisable image and is a useful tool for stress reduction. This is helpful in using art therapy as a means of unconscious expression.
Squares for a dreary Saturday in Melbourne. I did two squares today as part of my mental health strategy to avoid the state by state updates.
In the forefront of my mind was the quote for today on my Facebook page by J. Vernon McGee – ” Being a square keeps you from going around in circles.” However, I did have to laugh as the pattern for the first of the squares had a freehand circle in it!
The first of the squares was predominately red in colour.
This is the colour of the Root Chakra (Muladhara). When you look at the various meanings for the colour red, they range from health and courage as positive aspect to anger or aggression for the negative aspects. I felt that the energy of this square needed to be lifted by the inclusion of yellow – this bright yellow symbolizing happiness and positivity, with a touch of green for growth and good health in the corners.
Both squares took a little longer than the 5 minutes that I anticipated as today I decided to create something more structured. This second square evolved by creating triangles in the corners and rotating the paper in a circular fashion.
Green is associated with the Heart Chakra (Anahata) and is about balance and growth and the emotion of love. The Heart Chakra is the bridge between the lower and upper Chakras.
Colour can influence our emotions in a number of ways. For instance, the warm colours (red, orange, yellow) often evoke strong emotions – both positive in energy and negative in that these colours can overwhelm a sensitive person. Green, blue and purple are classed as cool colours and can evoke calmness. Blue in particular, is often associated with sadness or depression. Reaction to a colour can be based on personal experiences with a subconscious association to an event (either happy or sad). Some colours have a deep cultural significance, such as the meanings attached to black and white. For example, black is used for mourning in European countries and white for mourning in some Asian countries.
There is something about a triangle…. in fact there are many different triangle shapes – these are the main three….
- equilateral – where all sides are the same length
- isosceles – two of its sides are of equal length
- scalene – none of its sides are of equal length
Five days, five different shapes to fill in with simple lines, both straight and curved – taking around five minutes to complete. It’s a mini meditation for you. No need to make it perfect, it’s about focusing your mind on filling a space – not filling your mind with random thoughts. Feel free to post your creation on my Facebook page.
Using just a blue marker today and straight and curved lines to fill the spaces. Light blue is the colour of the throat chakra. The throat chakra governs the ability to communicate, to speak your truth and if you find that difficult, it means that this energy centre is blocked. If you are in lockdown and finding that you are eating unhealthy food, a mini detox diet may help in rebalancing your energy.
If you were drawn to a deeper, indigo blue then this is the colour of the third eye chakra. This chakra governs intuition, wisdom and your spiritual centre. When you find yourself overly concerned about what others think of you or having lots of negative thoughts, there is an imbalance. This can be rectified by releasing old thought patterns and habits. The Full Moon is an ideal time to be doing this. A regular meditation practice will also help to keep this chakra balanced. If you are into crystals, then a piece of Lapis Lazuli is considered helpful.
A five day challenge for the fifth Melbourne lockdown…. Art therapy is a great way to reduce stress. This five day challenge is designed so you can take five minutes or so to focus on a shape and change it with simple lines and colours.
When we are engaged in doing something that we love to do, hormones such as Dopamine, Serotonin and Oxytocin (happy hormones) are released and stress is reduced. As stress is reduced, wellbeing is increased. You may discover or rediscover something that you wanted to do as a child and put aside due to societal or cultural expectations. The pursuit of this activity and the joy in doing it will often bring about a great sense of satisfaction and completion. Not only that, when you are engaged in your passion, your inner energy is apparent and you will radiate that out to those around you.
The challenge is on my Facebook page if you would like to contribute your creation. I used Yellow for happiness & positivity; green for renewal & energy ( full moon tomorrow); blue for intuition, imagination and understanding, and a spiral path to lead inward and outward.