Sticking to this month’s theme of mental health care awareness, I wanted to continue the discussion of art and creativity’s connection in helping us thrive emotionally and mentally. As mentioned in my previous blog, art can be used as a critical tool and a form of creative therapy to help us overcome our mental blocks and unleash our inner potential. All it takes is a bit of commitment and open mindedness to make it work and reap its benefits.
Now, what do I mean when I say creative therapy?
Well, when it comes to therapy, we all think about psychologists and counsellors who are doing incredible work in improving people’s mental wellbeing. However, there are many people who are unfortunately unable to access this kind of professional healthcare. This is where creative therapy comes in – where these people can explore alternative forms of self-care like art therapy and mindfulness practices to look after themselves.
There is a growing body of research from the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) in the United States or the British Association of Art Therapists (BAAT) in the United Kingdom supporting the efficacy of art therapy. Studies have examined its effectiveness in various areas, including trauma recovery, depression, anxiety disorders, and chronic illnesses. Even though art therapy and mindfulness are two separate disciplines in mental health improvement, they happen to be incredibly complementary when used in conjunction.
There are numerous ways that you can enjoy the benefits of art healing and most of them just involve a drawing pad and minimal art supplies. Economical and convenient, you practically have no excuses to not take part in some art therapy and find your higher self. Here are some creative mindfulness exercises that I would like to revisit from my previous blog which you can try almost immediately:
- Pull out a drawing pad and a pencil. Plant yourself in front of a mirror, take a long look at your reflection and really examine what you look like: your skin, your hair, your eyes, your facial features. Now go back to your pad and start drawing your reflection. Stay in the moment, do not erase or scratch out any stray lines that you might have made. You should just focus on the point of your pencil and the picture that you have in your mind of your reflection. No other thoughts should be indulged in. Once done, take a look at what you have created but do not focus on how accurate it is to your reflection. This intimate exercise can lead you to a path of self discovery and think about how you feel looking at a self-portrait of yourself and how you perceive yourself.
- Ever notice how a child can spend hours playing with a little tub of clay? They roll and poke the clay around, creating characters and shapes summoned from the depths of their imagination. This form of creative expression is something that we adults can also use. Get a piece of clay or clay in different colours and sit down at a table for some quite art meditation. Start rolling around the clay or maybe even mix the different coloured clays together, focussing on the texture and shapes you are creating. You should not try to create something specific, the goal here is to stay in the moment and immerse yourself with the sensory simulation that the clay is providing you. This will allow you to be present and evoke mindfulness in yourself, while also making an artistic expression for one to be proud of.
Just two simple exercises to get you started on your road to creating art and instilling some much-needed mindfulness in your life. I have personally experienced the soothing benefits of having a daily practice of creative mindfulness. It has helped me keep myself level-headed and my creative self away from a potential burnout. These are simple habits and practices that we can adopt to improve our mental health and enrich our lives. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get that drawing pad and get going!
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