Tag Archives: mental health

Catching up

It’s been a while since the last post here. Catching up on the last couple of months may take some time!

emotions and artWorkshops

It has been wonderful to have participants from the Art Therapy workshops continue each term, regardless of whether the workshop is during the day or late evening.  Sometimes it’s been a challenge to create activities to build on their previous sessions, as well as engaging the new participants! Often lots of laughter when those “ah-ha” moments and insights happen!

Another workshop I’ve been delivering is a pre-learning  program for people with lived experience of mental health challenges. The participants are often interested in “paying it forward” to become Peer Support workers. This program can be challenging due to the sensitive nature of issues disclosed by participants, but I’m fortunate in that I have a wise and caring supervisor  that I can de-brief to when necessary.

At one stage I contemplated applying for a position teaching the advanced program with an accredited organization and actually sent off a resume. That certainly triggered my own issues with returning to a formal education setting and I subsequently withdrew the application.

The Retreat

It’s a decade or slightly more, since the retreat was acquired and I’m pleased to say that it is still organically maintained. Annual mowing of the larger paddock has created better soil moisture as the grass, when slashed, is left as mulch. In turn, this helps to smother some of the weeds. Having not being able to travel there during the lock downs has meant that a different set of weeds popped up and these are being removed by digging them out as they appear.  More planting of trees and shrubs, both deciduous and native has happened. The wildlife has kindly spared the salt bush plantings, although the resident Swamp Wallaby has taken a liking to pruning my pots of peppermint and geraniums.

The labyrinths have fallen into disrepair and a decision has to be made whether to refurbish them or to restore the areas to how they were before.

Refurbishment for the larger 7 ring Cretan labyrinth would mean a lot of digging to redefine the paths and restoration would mean removing the stones and jonquil bulbs from one of the rings.

Don’t forget the sunscreen!

Health wise, a seemingly innocuous spot on the face turned out that it wasn’t due to the aging process and needed to be removed. Dressings on the wound made it very obvious that I’d had a procedure done and although I was very self conscious about it, was able to encourage others to get  regular skin checks. A couple of setbacks with infections of the wound site -a closed eye and bruising is never a good look! People assume all sorts of other scenarios. Fortunately, all is good now and the experience and process has been an invaluable learning experience.


Carl Jung coined the term synchronicity to describe a series of coincidences that are experienced by various people. Yesterday began with a challenging decision to make. It ended up being a magical day where the Universe conspired to provide some memorable moments.


I’m a great believer that the Universe sends us inspiration in various ways. I’ve found that random songs on the radio will be played to help with mindset.  My mind was on my decision,  when a song came on the radio. It was upbeat and lifted my energy.  I mentioned the name of the song to the participants in the Mental Health workshop and they all knew the words.

The afternoon Art Therapy workshop.

After the introductions we did an exercise with eyes closed to help with mindfulness. A few moments passed and time to open their eyes.  There was much merriment when one of the group discovered that she had been drawing with the blunt end of her pencil!

Just as the group had started to share their individual experiences a large dragonfly flew in through the open door.

Dragonfly is a symbol of transformation, change and new beginnings. A perfect visitor to the Art Therapy room.

Many cultures celebrate the symbolism of Dragonfly.  In India, it is thought to represent intuition, which is something that Art Therapy helps to develop. Japanese people believe that the Dragonfly represents courage and rebirth.

The visit tied in with the intent of the activities and the group members in sharing their own interpretations of their work, and how they have started their transformational journeys.

The two hours always seems to pass so quickly. We finished off the session with an oracle card from the Spirit Warrior deck. Each person got a card and again the Universe dealt a card that had meaning to that person as well as resonating with the whole group. Random events? I’m sure that the Universe has a message for everyone. You just have to be listening.

Time to go home and prepare for an evening client. Yet another song on the radio helped me to centre myself. Things will be alright!

Well, it’s alright, ridin’ around in the breezeWell, it’s alright, if you live the life you pleaseWell, it’s alright, doin’ the best you canWell, it’s alright, as long as you lend a hand
Travelling Wilburys
And the day ended with a message from the evening client to say how much they appreciated me. Truly a magical day!



The Healing Power of Creativity

In the hustle and bustle of our modern lives, it’s very easy to overlook the power of creativity as a potent tool for helping to address mental health issues. Yet, creativity, possesses a transformative ability to soothe the mind, heal emotional wounds, and start the journey towards a more balanced and fulfilling life.

There is a profound connection between creativity and mental wellness. Practices like mindfulness, art therapy, and gratitude are all useful tools in this journey of self-discovery and healing.


The Creative Mind: A Sanctuary Amidst the Storm

art therapy and spirituality

Creativity is a core aspect of the human experience. It is the expression of our innermost thoughts, emotions, and experiences in unique and meaningful ways. When faced with mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, or stress, tapping into our creative potential can provide a sanctuary amidst the storm.

Engaging in creative activities allows us to channel our energy into something constructive, providing a much-needed respite from negative thought patterns and overwhelming emotions.


Mindfulness: Cultivating Present-Moment Awareness


Central to the practice of creativity as a tool for mental wellness is mindfulness – the practice of cultivating present-moment awareness without judgment. When immersed in the creative process,  either by painting, drawing or writing, we anchor ourselves in the here and now, letting go of worries about the past or future. This mindful engagement with our creative side not only fosters a sense of calm and tranquility but also enhances our ability to cope with stress and uncertainty.


Art Therapy: Healing Through Self-Expression

vision boardArt therapy is a form of psychotherapy that utilizes creative techniques to promote emotional healing and self-expression. It is gaining more recognition for its effectiveness in treating various mental health issues. Through guided exercises, individuals are encouraged to explore their thoughts and feelings in a safe and supportive environment. This process often uncovers hidden insights and emotions. Whether it’s painting, drawing, sculpting, or collage-making, the act of creating art can be profoundly cathartic, offering a means of processing complex emotions and experiences that may be difficult to express verbally.


Gratitude: Nurturing a Positive Mindset

In addition to creativity and mindfulness, practicing gratitude is another powerful tool for improving mental wellness. Having a mindset of gratitude involves consciously acknowledging and appreciating the big and small things that enrich our lives.

Keeping a gratitude journal, reflecting on moments of joy and beauty, or expressing gratitude to others, this simple yet profound practice has been shown to enhance overall well-being and resilience. By shifting our focus from what we lack to what we have, gratitude enables us to cultivate a more positive outlook on life, even amidst challenges.


Embrace Your Creative Journey

In conclusion, the importance of creativity in overcoming mental health issues cannot be overstated. Whether through mindfulness, art therapy, gratitude practices, or other creative pursuits, harnessing our innate creative potential can provide solace, insight, and empowerment on our journey towards mental wellness. So, let us embrace our creativity, nurture our minds and spirits, and unlock the healing power that lies within each of us.

Remember, in the canvas of life, you hold the brush – paint your masterpiece with courage, compassion, and creativity.

A week of workshops

It’s been a week of workshops! Three this week: the first being a continuation of a series of workshops covering Mental Health. This week we looked at what is recovery from a mental health issue and frameworks that can be used to help someone on their journey to recovery. We explored a range of resources that can be of use to people with lived experience of mental health issues and those caring for them.

The second workshop was an Art Therapy workshop – continuing the theme of growth as Spring is just around the corner.

Each participant was given an outline of the circles and we did a short, but deep meditation based on the significance of the circle in all cultures and traditions. It was really interesting to see the diversity of designs that the participants created, the colours used and the insights that they shared with each other at the end of the session.

The third workshop for the week was about Resilience. Using Emotional Intelligence frameworks we explored personal experiences of resilience and strategies to build the resilience “muscle”. We talked about the role of self care in building resilience and about being creative – such as creating a Gratitude Journal or Gratitude Jar.


How doodling can help your mental health

A simple and effective way to help your mental health is by doodling. “What is doodling?”  you may well ask. Doodling is drawing simple, spontaneous, and often repetitive lines, patterns, shapes, or designs. While it may seem like a mindless activity, doodling can serve as a powerful tool for relaxation and stress reduction.

There are various ways in which doodling is beneficial for your mental well-being and health:

Reducing stress:

Engaging in doodling can help redirect your focus and attention away from stressful thoughts and worries. It can be a form of mindfulness, as you immerse yourself in the creative process, allowing your mind to take a break from the pressures of daily life.

Improving concentration and focus:

Contrary to the perception that doodling can be distracting, it can actually improve concentration and focus, especially in situations where attention might wander, such as during lectures, meetings, or phone calls. Doodling can help maintain just enough cognitive engagement to prevent daydreaming or zoning out completely. I’ve found over the years that my retention of content in lectures or presentations is better when I have a page of notes complemented by various doodles in the margins.

Improved mood:

Doodling can stimulate the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. Engaging in a creative activity like doodling can boost your mood and leave you feeling more positive and content.

Increased self-expression:

Doodling provides an outlet for self-expression, allowing you to express your thoughts, emotions, and ideas visually. It can be a non-verbal way to communicate your feelings and experiences.

Relaxation and mindfulness:

The repetitive and rhythmic nature of doodling can induce a state of relaxation and calm. It can be likened to a form of meditation, as you focus on the present moment and let go of external concerns.

Coping with anxiety:

Doodling can serve as a coping mechanism for anxiety. It provides a safe and constructive way to channel nervous energy and tension, helping to reduce feelings of restlessness and agitation.

Improved memory and learning:

Doodling engages both the creative and logical parts of the brain. Studies have shown that doodling while listening to information can enhance retention and understanding, making it easier to recall details later on.

Building confidence:

Doodling is a low-pressure way to explore your artistic abilities and build creative confidence. It’s not about creating perfect art; rather, it’s a free form and unrestricted form of expression. You may just surprise yourself with your finished product!

Boredom buster:

Doodling is an enjoyable and productive way to pass the time during periods of boredom or waiting. Having a small notebook and pen or pencil handy – especially if you have long waiting periods at the doctors – is a great way to engage your creative mind rather than zoning out on social media.

Remember, doodling should be a fun and spontaneous activity. There are no rules or expectations for what your doodles should look like. Embrace the process, and allow yourself the freedom to create without judgment. Whether you’re an experienced artist or a complete beginner, doodling is a simple and accessible way to nurture your mental well-being.