art therapy

Coronavirus Coloring Page

Coronavirus with watermarkRemember the recent coloring book craze for adults? Although the trend faded, now might be a great time to return to the simple activity of coloring. This repetitive, bilateral act can serve as a very powerful medium and a self soothing activity.  Starting and completing something simple can also be helpful to people who are living through something chaotic without an end in sight.

This image of small mandalas was created to be appealing to all ages, and across cultures. Each circle looks like a microscopic Coronavirus. Humor, even during the darkest of times is essential. For seasoned therapists, we can attest to the importance of keeping low levels of humor accessible during traumatic moments and through processing trauma.

The act of anthropomorphizing or managing something that feels unmanageable can also help a person truly get a hold of or own the thing that feels overwhelming. At this writing, one third of the human race is experiencing some form of a quarantine to stop the spread of the COVID-19/Coronavirus. It might be impossible to make sense of such a staggering number. Pulling back a bit to get some perspective is really important. Coloring, and other forms of self care is a great way to “pull back” a bit. Trying to fall back on activities we normally find stimulating might be too overwhelming if you are in a state of shock.  I have found that turning off the news for small increments of time can also be helpful.

This coloring sheet can also be a great tool to share with children. Children need to understand what is happening around them. If they are not informed in any way, they might create their own narrative, and wonder if they caused all of the changes they are seeing at home. If they have too much information, they can be overwhelmed. Coloring, and using a playful Coronavirus image might be helpful for gently explaining this experience, and offering an opportunity for them to express their emotions.

Please print the image above. As you color the picture, please spend time figuring out your small piece of this experience. Print a few copies to share with your housemates or whomever you are with in your home. This will end. We cannot stay home forever. When we return to our active worlds, we will be wiser, kinder, and more appreciative of the everyday things we might have taken for granted a few weeks ago.

Cocooning vs. Quarantining- Words and Attitude

african monarch butterfly on white calla lily flower

Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

Let’s switch up the negative names of our new Coronavirus reality to something slightly more life affirming. We have been told to hunker down and quarantine (the word hunker is defined as to squat or crouch down low). Before we switch up the names though, we might need to re-imagine what we are doing. Can you use the metaphor of a caterpillar, chrysalis, and butterfly to mark your current experience of being stuck at home? Please try this project to muster some resilience.

 

  • Please find some  paper in your home, or just use your imagination to conceptualize this creative angle on our strange situation.
  • Please divide your paper up into three sections.
  • In the first section, please create a caterpillar. If you are not feeling the creativity urge, maybe just jot down a list of things you were doing a few weeks ago that might represent a less robust version of yourself (for all of us who were stretched thin, this might not be too hard to imagine). My list would probably include drinking too much coffee, not completing projects, not returning phone calls, etc
  • In the second section, please draw a cocoon or chrysalis (chrysalis is the technical term any third grader might remind you of, should you refer to the metamorphosis of a butterfly using the word cocoon). Again if this is too base or juvenile for your liking, please use this space to jot down a list of enjoyable and life affirming things you might explore during this home time.
  • In the third section, please draw a butterfly to represent a new and improved version of you who might walk out of your home when this is all over (yes- it will end). Imagine yourself reconnecting with the outside world in a new way with wings or something cool like that. A fresh perspective which is just about the same as new wings. We will all be different. Social isolation is not in our genetic makeup, so reconnecting with our species will probably be pretty spectacular. Again, if the butterfly metaphor is a bit pedestrian for you, perhaps just jot down a list of how you might envision reconnecting with the world.

More than two billion people are currently on lockdown in their homes on the planet as of this writing. That number might actually go up, as experts have warned that this week is going to look pretty grim. This unprecedented experience is perhaps the first time in human history that such a massive number of people are all essentially doing the same thing.  The quest to stop the transmission of Coronavirus is being called a variety of ominous things such as shelter in place, lockdown , quarantine, social distancing, self isolation, and other negative things. In some cities, this experience is being enforced with harsh punishments for violations, with soldiers in the streets. What would happen if we changed the languaging to conceptualize this as something more palatable to the human experience? Could we call it cocooning? hibernating? pausing? resetting our compass?  Slowing down? Respecting our elders and fragile fellow humans? Being a great Homo sapien?

How we conceptualize this whole thing will really determine our mental health throughout this experience. If we shift our experience to call this cocooning, we will be emerging from this quarantine as a completely different person, community, world, and species. Things could go wonderfully or terribly in this process, but there are some theories being kicked around that this might be a jump in consciousness caused by a radical shift in re-evaluating our values, and a radical appreciation for life we might have ignored just a few weeks ago. Stay safe and be well.

 

The Artist’s Way…a way to seriously change your life!!!!

The Artist’s Way has been a best-selling book for the past 25 years. This book offers readers an opportunity to walk through a twelve week process (one chapter per week) of breaking through creative blocks. Julia Cameron’s recipe is simple, stick with two non-negotiable tasks: writing “morning pages” (daily journal entry of three full hand written pages), and take oneself on a weekly “artist’s date,” while reading this book. Each chapter forces readers to explore the uncomfortable “stuff” that holds us back from being our best selves.

Having led many Artist’s Way groups as an art therapist, I can attest to the remarkable power of transformation this book offers to participants. Cameron’s ideas are so gentle, yet powerful, it is impossible to not change if you really do the full twelve week process. I have personally had massive, personal transformations while engaging in the exercises in this book, and watched participants experience intense and profound change while walking through it.

As an art therapist, I have read many, many books on creativity, change and transformation, but few are as thorough as The Artist’s Way. Although Cameron is not a therapist herself, her book reads as a therapeutic journey of exploration, and really offers an opportunity for people to become their own therapist.

Please click on image of book above to purchase this book on Amazon.

 

 

Amazing Kwik Stix solid tempera paint and Art Therapy

 

This art therapy blog will begin to review some art products. Today’s feature are the amazing Kwik Stix. Don’t be fooled by the small child featured on the packaging, these amazing paint sticks are the perfect medium for all age groups. The colors are vibrant, and the process is neat, dry and simply perfect.

As an art therapist, finding a medium that is age appropriate, respectful, and perfect for a person’s motor skills is essential to the work we do. The perfect medium can serve as a conduit for helping a person truly express themselves. I have been using this for people with dementia, and found they are powerful because of the vibrant color, ease of use, and smooth application onto paper. I have also used them with teens, adults, small children and large art therapy groups with equally impressive results. For more details or to order, please clic on the link above.

Suicide Prevention Hotlines: Please Reach Out for Help

cropped-dsc_0258.jpg

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Twitter Lifeline: @800273TALK

Instagram: 800273TALK

Facebook: 800273TALK

If you are reading this, you might be in a crisis. If you are reading this, you might be digging around the internet looking for a sign or message to reconsider self harm, or a reminder that self harm is not the only option for yourself. What else can you do? Please consider reaching out to one of the above numbers. Please consider reaching out to someone who loves you, or someone who is looking out for you (a teacher, a coworker, a neighbor, etc). When we get into the state of mind where suicide or self harm feel like the only option, our brains are not functioning at their full capacity. How do I know this? I worked in inpatient psychiatric places for many, many years, and watched thousands of people wake up from a suicide attempt so grateful for a second chance.

Please take a moment to consider your experience from a different perspective. What might the younger version of yourself say about your situation? What kind of advice could your older self from the future give to you about what you might be experiencing now. It might be helpful to write this in the form of a letter to yourself, or a video to yourself. Please consider calling the above numbers if you feel you are in danger.