Written by Cara Williams
As busy therapists, we spend a lot of time dealing with other people’s problems. Our own creativity and wellbeing can suffer as a result. While we’re trained to protect ourselves using boundaries, some client work is very emotionally draining. This is as true in sandplay therapy and creative trauma work as it is in talking therapy. To protect our own mental health, we need healthy ways to express emotions.
A growing number of scientific studies are suggesting that creativity is an effective way to improve mental wellbeing. For example, here is a research study at the University of Otago in New Zealand https://www.otago.ac.nz/news/news/otago627504.html . It found that students who were engaging in small daily acts of creativity experienced more “flourishing and positive emotions, energy, enthusiasm, and excitement the next day.”
The good news is there are plenty of ways to bring creativity into your day. In fact, self-care doesn’t take a lot of time. Practicing them for just 10 minutes is enough to keep you on an even keel.
Here are six easy ways to incorporate creativity and wellbeing into your daily routine and help to maintain your equilibrium:
Creativity and Wellbeing: Keep a diary
Don’t underestimate the power of writing your thoughts and feelings down. It can help you understand both yourself and your clients. Writing for as little as 15 minutes three times a week can also help you balance your emotions and improve your mental health.
Drawing is Creative Release
Most of us drew and painted as children without worrying about the quality of the final product. So, reconnecting with that creative spirit is relaxing and liberating. Even if you haven’t drawn since you were six, a few minutes a day can help. Even drawing simple things around you can unleash a playful energy to fill your whole day. Arts and health are in fact two things that go hand in hand. We run supportive arts therapy trainings that can help you re-connect to your creative side.
Listening to music enhances wellbeing
One of the most accessible and universal creative outlets at our disposal is music. It releases the feel-good chemical dopamine in the brain. If you are feeling anxious and stressed after seeing a client, why not tune into some soft music with a slow tempo? The best heartbeats-per-minute for relaxation is 60 BPM. In fact, when listening to slow music, our heartbeat synchronises to that speed. This slows our heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and deepens our breathing patterns.
Wellbeing: Dance like nobody’s watching
Moving is fun. It also relieves tension, and is simple to do in-between clients in the privacy of your own office. It doesn’t matter if you’re any good, just let loose. In addition, you get a much bigger release of endorphins when you dance than during other forms of exercise. It also connects with the emotional centres in the brain. For many people, dancing prompts an emotional release, which can be just uncomplicated happiness. For therapists, it can also release angry or sad feelings left with you by clients. Either way, it’s cathartic, as it enables you to let go of pent-up emotions.
Artistic Creativity: Create a vision board
We’re hard-wired to process the world visually, so a vision board can be a great way to help you through tough times. All you need is a large piece of card, and a bunch of inspiring images or words, cut out from magazines, and your imagination. Decorate the board with your chosen photos or words and take a few minutes each day to look at it and focus your intentions. Use images and words that have meaning to you. If a particular saying or photograph makes you feel happy when you see it, pin it on the board.
Nourish Creativity and Wellbeing via supportive supervision
If you need some more inspiration, why not join one of our creative supervision groups? You can immerse yourself in a supportive community and find out how other psychotherapists and counsellors look after their health and wellbeing. You can also join our sandplay training courses, where you will be part of a small group supporting you in becoming more creative.
Creativity and Wellbeing: have your say!
How do you support arts health and wellbeing in to your working day? Share your personal tips and experiences in the comments below! And please join us for a special week of articles starting 10th June to celebrate Creativity and Wellbeing week.