In March 2020 just days before the UK were told to self-isolate due to COVID-19 I was fortunate enough to have spent the weekend with a lovely group of Tool #15 Positive People at a Wellness Retreat with Breathe Retreats. This was a 40th Birthday gift to myself, a weekend to fully charge Tool #9 Daily Self Care, meet like-minded and friendly faces, devour healthy and nutritional food, partake in Yoga (even though it gives me nausea) & Pilates (I found this more enjoyable than I thought I would), sit in a hot tub with a glass of fizz (my kind of retreat), learn about new wellness tools and of course add some of them to My Wellness Toolbox.
On arrival we were welcomed with a beautiful gift bag full of wellness related gifts, including a motivational pad and tin of pencils. It did make a couple of us chuckle that the quote on the front of my pad was ‘Creativity is Contagious Pass It On’… quite ironic considering what is happening in the world right now!!
There was a very good reason for the pad and pencils, one that would have quite a profound and long-term impact on me.
During one of the sessions we were set a simple challenge to find a quiet spot inside or outside and create something with our new tools. I decided to grab a chair, I moved it in front of a window, the sun shone in, warming my skin, and I started to draw an Owl (that was an actual ornament… Snowy wasn’t perched on a tree outside) and I got completely lost in the experience. Over 70 minutes later the page was full, my hands were smudged with pencil lead, I had created something to be proud of, and more importantly I was relaxed, so relaxed. I had not felt that at ease or relaxed since April 2019 when we were on holiday. This was so good for me. It would become even more powerful for me within weeks.
Just days later we would find ourselves self-isolating, quickly followed by the COVID19 lockdown. All schools and nurseries to be closed for the foreseeable, the assumption by many is that the children will not return to school until September 2020. As I sit here writing this it is April 2020, for 3 weeks I have been ‘trying my best’ to home-school my 5-year-old and keep my 3 year old off the tablet for more hours than she is on it. Life has changed dramatically for us all, routines are out the window, so many unknowns, and the fear of what COVID-19 may do to us or our loved ones if we catch it… anxiety has been doing its best to take over once more. Tools are flying and one of the most effective for me and the children has been that pad of paper and lovely tin of pencils.
Each day during Lockdown we have Art hour. The first day it was just for the children, I switched on Tool #3 Music, the positive playlist and laid out paper, colouring books, pencils and pens, so whilst the 5 year old got creative and the 3 year old vandalised the woodwork, it gave me a chance to catch up on some of ‘my jobs’. Yet on the second day I had an urge to join them, instead of ‘my jobs’ I put on some classical piano music (that had been introduced to me on the above retreat by a lovely lady called Jag) and I grabbed my pad and pencils. We agreed to draw something we could see in the room; I chose a Buddha ornament (that I bought at Buddhas birthplace when we travelled in Nepal) and once again got completely lost in creation. It makes me feel so calm. I just focus on what I am creating. Any worries simply disappear for that hour.
There is a reason that children love drawing and colouring, they know how good it is for them.
Drawing or colouring may not be for you. Not everyone on the retreat wanted to use the pad and pencils, instead they went for an explore outside and got creative with their cameras, taking photos of the nature around us, just as relaxing.
Getting creative not only relaxes you. It can improve your memory, helps you release negative emotions, reduces anxiety, improves concentration, makes you happier and the more you create, the more creative you become. Those that are more creative often look for simpler and more effective ways of solving issues and making things work.
So, grab your pens, pencils, paints, sewing kit, wooden spoon, camera… and create something. Add them as tools to Your Wellness Toolbox and keep them charged.
Effectiveness: 10/10. Every-time I use this tool I always feel better for it.
Ease: 8/10.Finding the time isn’t always going to be easy. During lockdown Art Hour has become part of our routine, when lockdown is lifted, I really want to continue using this tool on a regular basis, yet I am realistic that time could be a constraint. I need to remember that when I use the tool it has got to be one of the easiest and most enjoyable to use.
Cost: Free - £depends… it all depends on how creative you want to get.