Art Therapy Lesson: Patience and Reducing Stress

Thursday, September 17, 2020

In our latest we are touching on the importance of Patience; why it's important, how to have patience with your art, and how this impacts mindfulness to reduce worry and anxiety. I wanted to do a little writeup on this lesson for you to save and refer to, so let's have a chat about this very important skill (and notice I say skill - it's something that most of us must practice to really learn, just like our colouring).

You may have heard about Mindfulness before - we talk about it a lot here. Mindfulness is about being able to be in the present moment, to focus on the task you are doing wholly which helps you let go of any worries about the past or future. This allows you to let go of any feelings of anxiety and just focus on what is in front of you at the present moment,and it's actually a skill that can help you not only destress and take a step back, but it helps you to deal with stressful situations with a clearer mind.

Mindfulness activities often involve a level of instruction and challenge, and this is what helps to occupy your mind more fully than a relaxation task - you are forced to disconnect from some of the pressures of life going on around you to focus on that task you are doing. Your colouring classes here are a good example of a mindful task, so you can see why doing something like can be helpful when you are overwhelmed.. even when you feel like you don't have time. It's just about taking a break, even for just 10 minutes, so you can take a little breather to focus on you, to gain back a bit of control, and to destress.

However, mindfulness takes practice and when we are really stressed or emotionally exhausted, it's very easy to fall out of mindfulness because those worries creep up on you and take over your thoughts and how you are feeling - they distract you from the task you are working on. When you think about, or when you are doing your mindful activity, like your colouring, you may encounter discomfort, pain, numbness, fear, all of those overwhelming emotions that you may be feeling about other things can manifest into your mindful activity. Or, you may even feel restless, like you can't focus on the task in front of you, and you keep jumping from one thing to the next. Or, you may find memories that you've been suppressing come to the surface - your mind is wandering and bringing up other things to think about. All of these things can lead to frustration, disappointment, and make you want to stop your "you time" activity, or even whatever it is you are doing - chores, work.. you may want to get up and just do something else as a distraction (which leads to procrastination).

What this can actually mean is you may lack patience in your mindfulness. What really is patience? Patience is what allows us to pause and accept a situation for what it is. It allows us to accept our emotions and reactions without judging ourselves for them. So, we know that mindfulness is being aware of the present moment without judging it, but our emotions can be very habitual and arise quickly - it takes patience to stop and step back from your initial reactions. If you can apply patience to mindfulness, you give yourself a chance to gain a broader perspective of what's happening so you be a bit more deliberate and present with what you are doing. It allows you to act or not to act as you choose - it helps you gain that self-control over your emotions. It is simply the absence of automatic reaction, which allows you a better, wider perspective from which to act, or not act, as you choose.

Art Therapy Exercise: 

When you are doing an activity like your colouring, work, or a repeitive task, as soon as you start to feel restless, take a deep breath, and think about whether this event has generated any impatience or discomfort within you. What emotions are you experiencing based on the distraction? Are you feeling stressed, tense, like you need to get up and do something else, or are you feeling guilty for taking a break? Once you have identified this, take a deep breath and accept that right now this is something you cannot change - we don't have control over this distraction. As you exhale, let go of the distraction and just relax into the moment again, be present, focus on what you are doing. When it comes to your colouring, focus on the colour you are laying down, the size of your strokes, the pressure you are laying down. Focus wholly on the task and gently bring your attention back to what you are doing, focus on your breathing aswell. If the distraction pops up again, repeat the same procedure. Breathe, let it go, bring yourself back to the present moment. This will help you to be more in control and to allow the stress to fall away so you can focus on really taking this time out for you.

You can also try this in every day life when something creates a negative reaction within you; pause, take a breath, let it out slowly and quietly. Observe whether this brief pause allows you to avoid a reaction in favour of a conscious choice of action. Practice patience with your emotions. Again, this does take practice and it's not always easy, but being aware of this and practicing this can help you start ingraining it in your mind. So when you do your colouring, focus on the present moment and just think of the lessons you are learning and taking away. Remember, priotising you in times of stress is not about the colouring, it's about giving you that emotional break to step back, recharge, destress, and gain that control back. It helps you with your work, your chores, better taking care of family, better interact with others... it filters through into every path of your life. And this is why taking these mindful breaks are so important - it's not about the colouring at the end of the day, it's your concious choice to take a break to be a better you ❤

Hope you've found this helpful, if you'd like some more art therapy tips, please check out our free Mindful Me Colouring Class over at via the Class Rooms tab. 

My Dreamcatcher colouring below is from our brand new Mini Colouring Class Bundle 5 x

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  1. Beautifully written and 100% true. Alyce I don't know where you get your intuition from but you've helped me a lot. THANK YOU X X X


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