As a therapist, I promote a lot of self care. Self care can be hard to define for one’s self if you were not raised to consider this necessary aspect of life. It took me many years to take self care off of my to-do list and actually make it a lifestyle. Of course, this is always a work in progress as I learn to continually sharpen the ability to identify my needs and care for those needs by way of my feelings. One of my favorite ways to do this over time has been through creativity, art, and nature as tools for expression while exploring underlying messages from my inner wisdom and highest self.
You do not need to carve out a big chuck of time. You can set aside as little as five minutes to tune into your breath and find an object in nature: tree, flower, rock, animal and just notice its many fascinating features. This curiosity is mindfulness. Notice any sounds as you look around and smells as you breathe. Do you taste anything as you inhale? Can you touch the object of your attention? How does it feel…what textures does it have?
Let go of any judgment of yourself. Follow your curiosity.
If you have time to get more creative, you can simply begin connecting to various parts of yourself through play. If you think you cannot draw or are not creative, let me request that you meet yourself exactly where you are. This means, if you cannot draw a stick figure, then don’t! There is no right or wrong way to begin or finish creative expression. It is all about exploring, expressing, and playing! Here are a few ways of getting started:
1. You can creatively express yourself by creating a nature mandala. Collect rocks, sticks, flowers,
and leaves. Arrange these in a circular pattern to however your heart desires. Take the time to express whatever wants to be expressed from within. If this doesn’t feel right to you and you want to get in touch with more color and the kid-like part of you that would enjoy the challenge of some art materials, go for it! The key here is to follow your desire.
2. If you are scared to start, you can pick up a color pencil, marker or paint (if you have some) and simply put down some color. You can even close your eyes and use a pen or pencil to start scribbling on the paper as a means to reduce pressure. See where the lines take you. When you open your eyes, see if you notice any shapes, objects, or patterns and let yourself develop those by adding more color. Experiment with different techniques.
3. You can combine the two activities above to integrate natural materials with traditional art supplies and see how you enjoy blending the two. Perhaps make a mandala using natural objects such as leaves to create stencils, stamps, or rubbings. Play!
When you are finished playing, give your art a title and describe both the process as well as the finished product. Ask your art what it would say if it could speak and what lesson it has come to teach you?
One of the benefits of reconnecting with yourself in these simple ways is that suppressed feelings and emotions are then released. This frees up space for you to be more present and available for others. Think back on a problem you recently had. Were you worried? Did it preoccupy your thoughts and feelings? How present and available for your family, significant other, or children were you during this time? Now, think back to when you took the time to express the worries and frustrations you had. Were your thoughts more clear? Were you less worried or stressed? Were you more present to what was happening around you?
Creating a space in which you can safely express your emotions is critical to your emotional health. When you are able to safely express your thoughts, feelings and emotions it has a tremendous impact on how you relate to others. In fact, it is much less of a risk to be vulnerable with others when we are committed to not abandoning ourselves and accepting our true feelings without any judgment.
Life is about the relationships we have with others, ourselves, and the world around us. Tune into this. Tune out anything that takes away from these relationships, and tune up the areas that bring you joy by inviting more of those people, activities, and experiences. This can take some time and definite practice.
I am here to support you in the journey and love hearing from you! Leave me a comment or question below. Also, interested in creative care for your relationship? Check out this upcoming workshop, Intimacy Building for Couples, led by my significant other, who is also a therapist, and me as we bridge the art and science of happy couples.
Recent Interviews and Guest Blogs:
How to Build Intimacy in a Relationship (I’m #8)
How to Share Your Feelings, Fears, & Insecurities with Him (I’m #18)
How to Have the Commitment Talk with Him(I’m #11)
5 Ways to Use Art for Reconnecting with Yourself
How I Create: Q&A with Lanie Smith