A major presentation at work, moving to a new city, planning a wedding, going out on a first date - what do all of these things have in common? They all can stir up everyone’s favorite thing: anxiety! Okay, obviously anxiety isn’t a great feeling. We feel our breathing speed up, our stomach fills with butterflies, jaws clench - not fun! For a lot of us, we feel as if there is nothing we can do about how miserable our anxiety makes us. Luckily, I brought holistic mental health therapist and owner of The Wellness Collective, Danielle Massi, on to The Stress Less Show to help us address our anxiety…
We’re taking a little bit of a different approach to stress in this week’s episode of The Stress Less Show. A lot of us view stress as being public enemy #1 in our lives. I mean, who has time for all the stress headaches, lack of sleep, frustration?? It is no secret that for a lot of us, stress is really negatively affecting our ability to feel healthy and make healthy choices. However, since this month’s theme is physical health, I brought fitness and nutrition coach Nick Deacon on the show to talk about how we can actually start to see stress as a way for us to grow and even improve our bodies and minds…
A lot of my private clients have mentioned to me that even though I share so many useful tools and ideas to the world, there is one powerful thing that I use with my clients who are feeling overwhelmed that I haven’t ever shared. After hearing this from clients over and over, I realized that they were onto something so I want to start doing something a little different over the coming months and share with you my tried and true methods for reducing stress with creativity.
If you have followed me for a while, you probably know that I am an artist and I cannot tell you enough how effective creativity can be when I need to let go of all of the craziness in my life. This first exercise that I want to share with you can really allow you to reduce your stress. When I am stuck in a rut, I always return to this creative exercise to reclaim a sense of calm. I am going to explain how I go about starting this exercise, but I encourage you to customize the process to you. You can watch the video above to see what this exercise actually looks like.
When I feel myself slipping into an overwhelmed state of mind, I will start my creative stress reduction practice by grabbing a piece of paper and marbling it. Marbling can be a complicated process so you do not have to do this step. Marbling consists of putting ink in water and then placing a blank piece of paper on the water’s surface and then the paper pulls back these gray areas from the ink, resembling a piece of marble. For me, I like to do this because these areas feel symbolic to me. They represent all of the extenuating circumstances in life. We are all dealt our own hand of circumstances that are beyond our control and I like to think this marbling process brings that to life on the page. From this page, I begin to think about how I am really feeling in the moment. This is when we go to the next step: scribbling!
If you do not want to try marbling, you can do the rest of this exercise with any kind of paper you want. You can use paper that’s old and discolored, paper with dots all over it, or just plain blank paper. I take my piece of marbled paper and begin to draw how I am feeling in the moment. What does this look like? This doesn’t mean I draw a sad self portrait or create an elaborate drawing. I listen to all of my emotionally exhausted feelings and thoughts and I scribble on the page. We are trying to draw the essence of the emotions we are feeling in this moment. Maybe your emotional exhaustion looks like a flat line, or maybe it feels more like a frustrated zig-zagging pattern. Whatever feeling you have, try to express it in an abstract way and let out all of that emotional energy onto the page. This part of the exercise is all about emotional release so you can do this for as long as you need to.
Next, we are going to be more meditative in this exercise. What I like to do next is take my piece of paper and I begin to highlight and go over the lines I have drawn in fine print markers. You can do this in any way you’d like with whatever materials you want. Shapes and areas in the scribbles and the marbling or design of the paper will begin to pop out and by highlighting these areas in marker, I am symbolically pulling out the things in my life that do or don’t serve me. This part of the exercise gives you the space to meditate on the benefits of life and the emotions that have come up as you continue to express yourself on the page.
The longer you do this exercise, the more you will see all of the energy and emotion you put into it. This exercise is all about being present with this manifestation of your emotion. You do not need to judge anything that comes out of you, simply let everything out on the page and be with it. Over time, you will start feeling that overwhelm, stress and anxiety dissipate. The more time you spend with the emotions you've drawn, the more peace you will find you feel from within you. If you're craving a sense of ease, calm or just a clear state of mind try it out, scribble out your emotions and draw back into them. I promise you'll feel much better afterwards.
If you have been feeling so overwhelmed by stress at work, you can check out the free 5 minute morning meditation that I have created for you here. You can also sign up for a complimentary clarity session with me here. Together, we will discuss where you’re at, where you’re going, what’s getting in the way and create a clear plan for you to find the work you love that doesn’t leave you burnt out every day!
Here at APOP we like to recognize people who take the term "moving meditation" to the next level. Philadelphia artist, Julia Fox, is an inspiring example of how art can not only be used to become more mindful of beauty on a daily basis, but also more aware of the importance of community and connectedness.
My artistic practice started as a way to focus. Creative energy allowed me to be content for hours that would have normally been spent getting into trouble or pestering my siblings. Although my art practice has maintained these qualities into adulthood, art-making for me has also become a way to process and understand the society in which I live. My work is meant to capture a moment in the life of an urban structure that epitomizes the state of the neighborhood or city in which it resides. A finished work describes the moment I took an interest in the architecture and slowed down to process my surroundings. My work serves as a connection between myself and the city in which I work, and is meant to take those moments of observation, and share them with a viewer. I intend for them to serve as a reminder of the beauty in the forgotten and overlooked, for that is on my mind during that first moment of observation. In a way the moments of observation themselves can be seen as a meditation and although the physical act of making is what initially drew me to art, the concept and connection to a community or city has become just as important in my mature work. -Julia Fox
Check out more coloring pages and products at apopstudios.com/helpmemeditate :) [shopify product=http://apop-studios.myshopify.com/products/free-daily-doodle-02-05-2016]
Get your moving meditation on with APOP Studios' new Daily Doodle, a free, downloadable and printable adult coloring page finding its way to you daily.
It doesn't sound that meditative, but upon looking at Zazen Creation: An APOP Shop's newest product. You might understand how creating the box and design might encourage it's creator (that's me!) to slow down from my busy life. It was a pleasure making this product. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
PS: I'm pretty excited that I can leave my tampon box out in the open without it messing up my bathroom's color scheme. :P
The Youshhh: Is that how you spell that? Lol, that word short for usual? I'm pretty sure that's far from correct, lol. Anyway, last night I did my usual tuesday night power yoga. I could tell my mind was far from still as my balance was off last night. Something to work on, I guess. I did Power Yoga with MapMyFitness! Distance: 0.00mi, time: 01:00:00, pace: N/A, speed: 0.00mi/h. http://mapmyfitness.com/workout/953875653
I can't express to you guys how much I love this yoga class. Everytime I leave stress I didn't even know was there is gone along with all that body tension that comes with training. ☺I'm feeling chill. 😎 I did Power Yoga with MapMyFitness! Distance: 0.00mi, time: 01:00:00, pace: N/A, speed: 0.00mi/h. http://mapmyfitness.com/workout/934028651