Over at Lani’s 14 Secrets yesterday, the Monday challenge was devoted to cultivating relaxation- a very nice way to start off the week! The challenge’s prompt included creating an art expression that reflected a state of peacefulness & relaxation.
For me, when I make art and I am in that creative head & heart space…a sense of calm and pause embodies me that nothing else can quite do. I created this artist trading card size image to represent this sense of stillness and balance the creative process renews in me:
This prompt also inspired me to do some reflecting on the ways I use creative expression with the traumatized youth and women I work in art therapy to best help support a sense of relaxation, peace, and empower their inner strength to create this safe space.
The experience of safety, which is often fluid and can change very quickly with survivors of domestic violence. This often makes it difficult to feel at ease and take refuge from a brain constantly scanning for potential danger and a body geared up to defend against the next threat. Self regulation, managing strong emotions related to fear & worry, and self soothing are areas of challenge, as well as transformation that can benefit from using art as part of this process.
Sometimes in my work this can involve, but is not limited to introducing sensory based art interventions to restore a sense of power, safely contain paralyzing emotions, and experience the creative process as a here & now safe place to take risks, discover ones strengths, support emotional safety, and instill hope.
Other experiences I introduce for helping “calm our bodies and our mind” can involve guided imagery, deep breathing, body movement, and therapeutic books. This book simply called Relax I enjoy using in group with some of the younger kids I work with.
Also check out these books and CDs by Roger Klein and Jeffrey Allen to help promote self regulation, positive self affirmation, and tools for relaxation:
- Ready Set R.E.L.A.X.- A Research Based Program of Relaxation, Learning, and Self-Esteem for Children (Book)
- Ready..Set…Release- Music and Relaxation Exercises for Children (Audio CD)
- R.E.L.A.X. Calm- Helping Teens Manage Stress Using Relaxation and Guided Imagery (Book)
- R.E.L.A.X.Calm- Helping Teens Manage Stress and Imaging Success | Self Confidence and Bully Resistance– (Audio CD)