Art Making And Mental Health

Art making is not a recognised enough as a tool for mental health, it has been both a personal and professional journey for me. I am going to explain in this article that includes my personal journey for an insight into how it can benefit anyone who wishes to explore their inner self, in order to understand themselves better.
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For many people using art as a non-verbal tool can help with difficult memories or emotions that may be too difficult to talk about in words, it can help many individuals self explore, strengthening their self esteem as they begin to notice patterns or themes within the artwork that they might not have thought of as it may have been too difficult to process. Art making and being creative can help process difficult thoughts. 

I believe each person has a story they wish to tell both to themselves and to others and it is this narrative which is meaningful as sometimes people just want to be understood by others.

 I was going through a very hard time finding my place in the world. I found relationships with others difficult throughout my life both in school and as a young adult. I felt different from everyone else and that their was not one person in the world that would understand what I was going through. Why was everything so terrifying? Why couldn't I trust anyone? Why did I feel so alone yet I had people around me that cared and tried everything to help me see the light?. But it was impossible, there was a black cloud hanging over me and I could not shift it. That was until I started drawing my thoughts in sketchbooks from dreams and nightmares. I drew these terrifying parts of myself onto paper where I could make sense of it by finding themes that were relevant in my life that resonated into my imagination.

These were not so terrifying anymore as I began to notice and get to know these characters and I still draw random mark making today to see if there is anything else lurking within my imagination that wants to be explored!

My passion now is to help others on their own journey, to find their story and tell it in a way that is meaningful to them by creatively listening to the imagination, like we used to as children but not so much as adults.

It seems to be that we use the imagination less later in life as we learn about the facts of the world, suddenly the monsters under the bed seem unreasonable but maybe they are still there in the back of our minds lurking around wanting to be found?

Family, responsibility and jobs all take over our imaginative time for creativity. Can you remember as a child how liberating it was to make a mess with paint or build a tower with lego blocks? This seems unnatural as adults and almost unaccepted, maybe we all have that inner child that needs time to play and explore to have time to escape the stress of everyday life, so here I will share some ideas that can help with self care and reflection when feeling overwhelmed or stressed with daily life.

Anyone can be creative and you don't have to be good at art! Its about finding that safe space to explore and understand your emotions that you can look back on in time, a bit like a diary! 

Self Care Image Journal 

All you need is a sketchbook or some paper stapled together, any sort of book that you can draw in or stick images inside that you can then put somewhere safe.

you could make a list of experiences you find enjoyable this could be things in nature, you could even collect leaves or flowers that you found on a walk that really made you feel good that day. It could be music, a cut out of a band you love or lyrics from a song that is heartfelt. It may be photographs from childhood of a moment you found enjoyable.

You might find images and words from magazines that resonate with you that you may want to cut out and stick onto the paper, it could be colours you are drawn to or a future you desire you could have themed pages.

You may want to make a personal cover for the book using art materials or found objects.

Then pick a page once you have competed the book that you makes you feel good or relaxed. Focus on it and try to think of what emotions it represents within and how this makes you feel, you could do this any time you wish when you have a moment in the day to reflect and this may create positive sensations. This is a great self care task which may help you understand your emotions more.

You can add anything to the book whenever you please ! 

Take care and remember to take a few moments in  the day to be imaginative like a child, whether it be using art materials, getting messy or using images in a journal its important to take care of yourself and have time to process your thoughts from the day and take the time for yourself.

Fifi x

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