Yoga, meditation and therapy all aim towards mindfulness. It is an old principle found in Buddhism and other eastern philosophies promoting self-awareness and living mindfully in the present. Mindfulness focuses on the moment at hand, and enjoying that moment knowing you will never get it back. It gives you a sense of appreciation and wonder at life’s little moments.
Art therapy encourages mindfulness which leads to stress relief. Here are some ideas of what you can do for art therapy:
Gather flowers that don’t have too many specks or bends and dry them with some paper towel (best to do on a sunny day). Place the flowers between two pieces of paper and lay them in between two heavy books. Put another book on top just to be sure and go back in about 10 days to see how they look!
Even though we’ve talked about spending too much time on a screen, if you have no other option or you want to do some art while you’re on the train, here are some good free apps to try:
- Autodesk Sketchbook
- Adobe Photoshop Sketch
- Adobe Illustrator Draw
- Paper by Fifty Three
- Tayasui Sketches
Old Fashioned Sketching
Pick up a pencil, put it to the paper. Don’t think about it too much
Old Fashioned Painting
Pick up a paintbrush, dip it into paint, apply to surface. Get creative with your surfaces! You can get some cheap paints but canvas’ can be expensive, especially if you just want to play around. Try using some wood or an old photo frame.
Don’t hold back! Just grab something and get creative. If all you have is a half-broken pencil and some scrap paper – start with that! It’s more important that you enjoy your time creating than to stress about making a masterpiece.
With the HSC and final university exams looming, stress is high for students at the moment. But there are more important things – such as your health.
We already know that stress can make us sick and lose focus in daily life. But what about stress about study – how much stress is too much? And how do we cope with stress in a stressful time?
Stress becomes a problem when it eats away at your sense of wellbeing. It can disrupt your learning process and overwhelm you to the point where you can’t study.
Intense anxiety can be redirected into motivation but prevention is the most important aspect of managing stress. Incorporating stress relieving behaviours into everyday life BEFORE a stressful situation arises is the best way to ensure you don’t burn out when things get tough.
The problem with stress is that once it starts to be too much, it quickly worsens and being stressed can actually make you more stressed! Actively preventing stress is the best thing you can do but sometimes it gets a bit too much too quickly and you have to teach yourself stress relief in a stressful time, which is difficult.
One of the worst things about stress during exam time is that it feels like the end of the world: if you don’t pass these exams you will fail the course which means you fail your degree which means you fail life… WRONG. Exams are not more important than your mental health. Uni will be there forever, but being a healthy happy person is the top priority for every individual. The stress from exams can make you feel like you can’t cope, or that you can’t deal with anything else such family issues or relationships. The thing to keep in mind here is that you are not alone. Everyone in your class is freaking out about that huge essay due next week, even if they say they’re fine. It is a universal experience to be stressed over studies and there is an end point – it will be over at some point and you will get through it.
Check out ways to actively deal with stress on the blog or look up the ReachOut YouTube campaign about life after the HSC.
Aside from all the other benefits from art therapy, especially one’s that have nostalgic value, it’s great for another reason: it takes your eyes off a screen!
Even though the ability to contact someone wherever they are in the world at whatever time is super convenient, being connected 24/7 to our devices is exhausting and stressful. Recovery from your hard days at uni/work/both is important and having a phone in your hand every minute until you fall asleep doesn’t give you a chance to unwind. Giving your brain a chance to relax and process the day is important for you to prepare for the next day and helps you not have a breakdown or stress overload. “When people are really under stress their psychological and physical resources are drained” (http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2013/02/06/feeling-disconnected-5-reasons-to-unplug-from-technology-after-work/)
If you’re drained, you might not have the effort for thing you enjoy and you might be more irritable, depreciating your relationships.
Other than the tiring nature of constant communication and notifications, looking at a screen for extended periods of time is physiologically bad for your brain. Studies show that “internet addiction is associated with structural and functional changes in brain regions involving emotional processing, executive attention, decision making and cognitive control” (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mental-wealth/201402/gray-matters-too-much-screen-time-damages-the-brain). So you don’t think you’re quite addicted to your screen, but you spend approx. 3 hours a day looking at one? What about regular exposure? Findings from this report show that constantly looking at screens can damage areas of the brain associated with empathy and compassion, which can result in violent behaviour and lack of quality in personal relationships. Other side effects can include: impairment of cognitive tasks (very important for uni), poor task performance, reduced dopamine receptors and transporters (reward processing and addiction implications). All these areas of the brain that are affected undergo highly important changes in puberty to mid-twenties.
So what should you do about it?
Make boundaries for yourself! Start by allocating an hour or two where you leave your phone in the other room on silent and do something else with your hands – there’s a few suggestions on this blog!
Setting these boundaries will not only make you a happier and more relaxed person – your uni and work standards will improve as you’ll be more motivated and recharged. Plus, those side effects don’t sound too good!!
For more info on the study see: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mental-wealth/201402/gray-matters-too-much-screen-time-damages-the-brain
Reconnecting to activities that you did as a kid doesn’t just make you smile – it can actually be good for your brain and to refocus you on what’s important.
Running around in the rain or drawing in a colouring book might seem like unimportant, menial activities, but they can often enhance our wellbeing and reduce stress.
Often, the inner child in your brain is told to be quiet while you take care of the important things in life like bills and jobs and cleaning and assignments. This is good because otherwise how would we get things done, however, there is an essential part of our brain that craves creativity, fun and silliness.
Reconnecting with your inner child can give you the following benefits:
- reduced judgement as children live judgement-free
- creativity – this can also give you inspiration for work or university studies or creative solutions to your problems
- enhanced relationships when you’re silly together
- empathy and compassion
- openness and
- reduced stress and the benefits that accompany it
- fitness if you engage in physical activities
Qualities learned in preschool can also be helpful in modern workplaces. Skills like cooperation, empathy and flexibility are increasingly important in the workplace. Social skills are more important than ever with robots replacing task-based roles. But robots can’t pick up social queues! And they can’t adjust their behaviour by considering those around it. So having the social skills to interact and having a special “human touch” might just secure you your next role. These skills aren’t emphasised in high school and university when you are preparing for employment… They’re taught in preschool when you are preparing for society.
Associate professor of education and economics at Harvard University and author of a study on the growing importance of social skills, David Deming, said that preschool classrooms look a lot like the modern work world. Sharing and negotiating skills are highly important when everybody wants the green crayon.
Jobs that have been on the rise include either social skills or mathematical skills or both and jobs that have been declining require neither of these skills.
This is what InnerKid is all about
Growing up is something that nobody wants to do. It can be confronting when we are faced with so many challenges at such a young age, and nobody seems to acknowledge that this might be hard. InnerKid is about reconnecting with our inner child through creativity that is focussed on expression rather than competition. It has been shown that being creative makes our minds happy and can help us to tackle the challenges we face every day.
InnerKid is a community of young adults helping one another to find mindfulness and peace in our hectic lives. We’re a little bit silly but we try to bring a lightness to everyone’s day. Besides being serious 24/7 is such a drag, everyone needs time out and everyone needs to be silly every now and then!!
Like and share us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram and have a browse through our blog for more info. Links are up in the menu ^
Following the blog or any of our social media means you’ll get updates on new creative challenges and opportunities for expression. These can be things you can do at home or community activities near you. We’re always looking for more Kids to participate in our activities so keep in touch and let us know if there are more things you want to see up here 🙂
If you have any questions or need advice on where to get help, send us a message on here or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note if you need immediate support, contact Lifeline 13 11 14 or Beyondblue 1300 22 4636
Interesting opinion (as always) from Russell Brand on colouring books! We agree with a lot of what he has to say but we think he missed out on saying that it’s very important to have time to yourself. Using art to actively meditate is just one of the ways you can relax and reconnect, he mentions a few in the video such as gardening or praying. There is no way you can solve your problems by buying things – as Russell says – but colouring books are just one of the ways to utilise art therapy. Instead of buying one, just start from scratch and draw a picture of what you did today, or print off some templates from the internet. We advocate self-care, not materialism, and reconnecting with your InnerKid doesn’t have to be such a bad thing. We are not encouraging you to neglect your adult responsibilities (which is impossible to do anyway) we are acknowledging that sometimes these responsibilities can take their toll. It’s not easy to recognise that you need time out, but if you maintain a couple of hours a week just for you, everything else will seem a little bit easier.
As for being childish and ignoring the world’s crises… The problems will still be there when you get back, you’ll just be able to deal with it a bit easier with the right mindset
There is a huge difference between downtime and laziness. The lives of young adults are often very hectic – there’s uni, part time jobs, relationships, friendships, money, family, growing up, moving out, paying bills, real jobs, travel, savings, etc. While this is all very exciting and makes for a very busy life, sometimes there’s one thing missing: YOU. With a frantic schedule and a million things to do, it’s easy to forget about the most important thing and that’s yourself and your health.
Downtime is unique to every individual and some people don’t really know how to do it. Extroverted people often don’t make time to be alone, as they prefer the company of other’s. But “you-time” is highly important and you need to gift it to yourself. Even though you think you’re taking time out to have a drink with friends, it’s not complete relaxation and it’s not alone. Spending time with yourself is important to reconnect with who you want to be and how you are coping with your stresses. Here’s six benefits of solitude (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/high-octane-women/201201/6-reasons-you-should-spend-more-time-alone)
- You clear your brain and unwind
- Improves concentration and productivity
- Self-discovery and focus on your values and goals
- Time to think deeply and reflect
- Time to think through problems and stresses without distraction
- Enhance relationships through self-understanding and appreciation
This time to yourself isn’t’ something to feel guilty about. You might feel like you should be more productive with your time but taking this moment to yourself results in higher productivity, focus and motivation for when you do get back into your to-do list.
You might feel like you don’t have time for this. It is important to allocate time for you, even if it is 15 minutes. Postpone your lunch date and spend time mediating or painting. Or get up half an hour earlier for a quick walk before uni.
Here are some suggestions on what to do in your downtime:
- read a book
- watch TV
- writing (not uni or work)
- lie down in the sun
Socialising doesn’t count! Neither does uni work! So keep yourself disconnected to the outside world for a little bit so you can reconnect with yourself.
So how much alone time should you schedule? There’s no one-size-fits all but start with 15 minutes a day just for you. Or maybe an hour for three days a week. Make it work with your schedule and your needs but make sure it’s there!
Keep in mind that excessive alone time may lead to loneliness but that’s another can of worms!