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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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.
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.
As emotions arise from our thoughts, then it is more than likely that they are influenced by events, people, places and circumstances that we have experienced from the time we are born until the time that we die.
By helping you to examine the thought processes around your emotions and looking at the beliefs around the feelings generated and subsequently changing those beliefs, a better understanding of the emotions experienced is possible. Some emotions however, are elicited by an unconscious reaction to a stimulus.
It is my role to help you discover the original stimulus even if it were long forgotten or experienced at a time when you were non-verbal. Art therapy allows you to access these unconscious stimuli through the creation of images and subsequent analysis and interpretation.
Another day, another lockdown. We can choose how we respond to these times and I won’t go into the politics of whether it is right or wrong or who may be at fault. What I will do is to choose to use this time as a reset, a chance to create and as we move into winter…… perhaps a little hibernation.
I’m taking my own advice and doing a little art therapy to relax my mind and take myself away from listening to or watching the news. Having created some mandalas for an online program, I’d like to share one with you so that you can relax a little during this lockdown or circuit breaker.
Download it HERE.
If you don’t have a supply of colour pens or pencils – not to worry, I did one using just a black pen and lines and I think it turned out OK!
Creating a work of art…. how often have you heard (or even told yourself) someone say that they are not creative or they are “no good at art”?
Let me tell you a secret………
You don’t have to be an accomplished artist or proficient in techniques to create a work of art. Doing an “art activity” is more than creating an artistic masterpiece. The act of creating an image engages the kinaesthetic as we move pens/pencils/brushes; the visual as we choose colours and shapes; and perhaps even the auditory senses as we hear our chosen implements move across canvas or paper.
Take a mandala or a picture from one of those popular colouring books. I have given these out in workshops and am always delighted to see such variation in colours and textures from the same pattern given to everyone. Some chose to create their work of art with many colours, others with just a few and some made a bold statement by using a black fineliner. Each one was a work of art in its own way, because while the participant was creating and getting in touch with their inner artist, they lost their conscious filters as they engaged in mindfulness. Many were surprised at how the time had flown past, demonstrating that they had entered into an altered state of consciousness where time had no meaning.
I have an upcoming stress management workshop that I will be putting online and it will incorporate an “art activity” as a precursor to the inner work to be done on identifying stressors. Keep an eye out for the announcement of the online course!
How can Art Therapy help in our current times? But what if I’m not “good” at art or “don’t have an artistic background”. These and more questions have been asked of me in recent days. I have responded with examples of my own portfolio which demonstrates that I am not necessarily an accomplished artist. It is about the symbolic nature of what you create and bringing to your conscious mind feelings or emotions that need resolution. What you do with it later, can be either even more creative or cathartic. Art Therapy is more about the Therapy than being an accomplished artist.
Art helps with feelings of sorrow, particularly the medium of photography. It can convey the immediacy of a situation and captures – particularly in black and white – to the collective and subconscious emotions of the viewers.
Situations viewed through the photographic lens allow the viewer to simultaneously view an event whilst experiencing it as a disconnected viewer. Focus and contrast can be easily manipulated to draw the eye to a specific area. This is beneficial, in that emotion that may not have been otherwise expressed or subconsciously repressed can be brought to the fore and by the expression of same, healing can begin.
We all have an imagination. Whether we use it creatively or destructively is ultimately up to us. Art and Music can transport us to places that allow our imagination to run free, you don’t have to be a VanGogh or Matisse to create beautiful art, even the act of colouring in a mandala in a purchased book can create beautiful images that relax our conscious minds and allow the subconscious to find solutions or a better way of doing things.
When our imagination is less than helpful by focusing on negative things or overthinking outcomes, it is time to pick up a pencil, a brush or some clay and allow the subconscious mind to have a play. Likewise, we don’t have to be an accomplished musician to enjoy the benefits of music. The notes can transport us to a different time and place as the subconscious retrieves the memories of times gone by. An added benefit of being able to play an instrument is that it engages the kinaesthetic as well as the aural senses. The powerful effect that art and music have on the psyche and our wellbeing cannot be underestimated.
It’s been a while since the last update but I do have a legitimate distraction…. I started studying just as the first lockdown started and have regular assignments to complete. A bit of a backstory to the area that I’m studying in first….
At High School I did Art and my art teacher was very understanding, letting me hide out in the art room when I should have been in a Japanese or French class. I’m sure they were also aware of home issues at the time and just let me find a space, but that’s another story. End of Year 12, results in and I was offered a place in the highly coveted Art and Design course at the Institute of Technology. Parental influence prevailed – because it would be a waste of time “because I would only get married and have children” – so off to the workforce. At the start of this year, a chance email came in offering a chance to enrol in a Diploma of Art Therapy, just at the time I was tossing up whether to take on a training course.
Allowing my intuition to guide me (a novel idea) I signed up for the Art Therapy course and have to say I am loving it. It is as much for me and allows me to have a second chance at what I set aside all those years ago. The distraction is not about the the course content as such. Each unit requires a portfolio activity with an image/art work to be completed as practice for becoming an art therapist.
Regardless of the assignments, each New Moon I record something in my vision journal. The New Moon in May coincided with an assignment to go beyond vision boarding but to create a ‘Scene Map’ of something as if it had already happened.
Just a few days after creating this image, I received a phone call from a rescue service that I have been registered with for over 4 years… “we have a dog… we know you were looking for a male dog…but…..” .. A meeting was set up and we met with Lucy. An interesting background and when we arrived for the initial “meet and greet” with the foster family- there she was looking out of the window as we arrived.
So….. just a few weeks on ….. here’s Lucy! Just 2 years old – a teenager in dog years and a very affectionate nature. Before second lockdown, we were able to take her up to the retreat where she really enjoyed the wide open spaces to run and do “zoomies”. In the city and in second lockdown she gets to go for twice daily walks. The two occasions she got to meet with grandchildren, she was overjoyed to be around little people and was exceptionally well behaved. There are moments…. when she gets over enthusiastic about my socks or shoes that we are not in sync with each other but as we get to know each other our respective boundaries will be observed.