Tag: #mentalhealth

Make Your Mark

We are born to create. It’s in our DNA. We were made in the image of the Master Artist himself, yet we often discount what is innate by saying “oh, I’m not good at art,” “I can’t draw” or “I’m not creative.” Maybe we narrow the definition of creativity to artistic ability alone. It’s as if there’s some unattainable, high standard for a creative outcome where everything we create must be a masterpiece, ready to be framed and put in a gallery.

Creativity is much more about the process than it is about the product. It provides a release and causes a sense of relief by helping to clear your mind and calm your nerves. “Anything that engages your creative mind — the ability to make connections between unrelated things and imagine new ways to communicate — is good for you,” says Girija Kaimal, a professor at Drexel University and researcher in art therapy. [Source: NPR.org]

All forms of creative self-expression can enhance your life, doodling, coloring, knitting, baking, scrapbooking, woodworking – the sky’s the limit. It enables flexible-thinking, improves your ability to focus and can help you make sense of your emotions. Because it can be relaxing, it allows you to experience a state of flow. Also, “engaging in any sort of visual expression results in the reward pathway in the brain being activated,” says Kaimal. “Which means that you feel good and it’s perceived as a pleasurable experience.”

Try picking up a brush or a marker and just start creating for the sake of creating. Who cares what it looks like? Give yourself permission to play. Don’t be afraid of making a mess as you might discover your own style, your own expression… your own mark. 

God loves all forms of creativity. He specifically called people to make artwork, music, dance, writing, and more. Find out what type of self-expression works for you. Be brave and overcome the fear of making a mistake…make a mark, you’ll feel better, you’ll live better.

– Lisa Lounsbury, MA, LMFT, ATR-BC, Executive Director of Art Lab Rx, LLC

Gratitude in Struggle

Being grateful does not mean things are easy. But gratitude can be a blessing when expressed while we are going through our most difficult challenges in life. Lately I’ve been through various trials and horrific experiences, and while I would never choose to go through them, I can see how I am growing and changing as a result of these struggles. I am thankful for this growth.

Feeling gratitude during conflict is not easy and it may be the last thing we want to do but focusing on gratitude opens our hearts and minds to new ways of thinking. It can put our struggles into perspective and help us find balance. That stability gives us a platform for coping with difficulties. 

It is often only through times of change that we allow ourselves to grow and learn, to be stretched and pulled, to see things in a new way. That, in itself, is something to be grateful for as it is important for us to stretch our brain, heart, and spirit. This stretching of our minds, known as neuroplasticity, is the ability of the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections, especially in response to learning or experience. 

Our brains are amazing in their ability to adapt and change. In fact, studies have shown people continue to develop neuroplasticity through old age. So you CAN teach an old dog new tricks! 

In my art therapy practice, I have my clients use the art-making process to enter into a mindset of gratitude. The very act of considering art making for a specific intervention begins to develop new pathways in their brains. As they continue making art about their challenges, their minds continue to change and expand. Gratitude becomes a healthy companion in the recovery process as they begin to see problems in new ways and choose alternate ways of responding to them. They are learning new ways of living their life.

We learn best through experience and the things we learn help us cope with future challenges in life. Plus, our responses and expressions of gratitude can become a guide for others to mimic when they, too, experience challenges. 

Gratitude does not mean everything is okay. Gratitude does put us in a place of openness so we can respond better to our circumstances. For that, I am grateful.

– Lisa Lounsbury, MA, LMFT, ATR-BC, Executive Director of Art Lab Rx, LLC

Growth in Transition

I’m a learner. I may be an Art Therapist, business owner and Adjunct Professor, but I still remain a learner. I look at my life and the world around me in wonder and amazement. I hope that never changes.

Choosing a state of wonder helps me embrace life’s transitions and changes as it’s often full of circumstances I would never have chosen. I decide how I will face or manage what I’m given.

That mindset showed up in one of my art therapy courses during grad school. My classmates and I were invited to choose a paper bag among many on the table as we left for the evening. Each contained unknown items and we were told to go make an art piece. As I considered the contents; a child’s medical mask, several band-aids and a small rock, I began to look at each item from a “think outside the box” or in this case “think outside the bag” perspective. This was a fabulous exercise in expanding the imagination to solve a problem, a great life skill enhancing project.

What surprised me, when everyone brought in their projects the following week, was that I was the only one who incorporated the paper bag as a key element in the finished art piece.

In order for us to grow emotionally, spiritually and physically, I think we need to adjust and “think outside the box” of our given circumstances. We need to go beyond the basic elements and consider everything we’ve got before us. You’ve got more in you than you think.

What does it mean to be given an opportunity to grow or to heal? What does it look like for you to be in that vulnerable place where you NEED to struggle in order to change? Does it hurt? Can you look at it as a gift of being able to “look outside the box” of your situation and address it creatively? Does it force you to seek help from others? Does it nudge you to seek a time of restorative prayer? Where do you go for healing?

Lately I’ve I learned that I want to hold on to too much. I hold the stories of my clients, which is good, but I also have a tendency to hold what isn’t mine, what wasn’t meant for me to carry. During those times, I try to think of this bible passage in Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” I am not always gentle and humble towards myself; I need this reminder and this invitation to find rest for my soul.

After profound rest and deep healing we are changed. Sometimes we are stronger; sometimes more gentle, but we are definitely different. The outcome of our experience can surprise us. Give your burdens to God and let Him soothe you. You can count on His strength. Remain a learner.

– Lisa Lounsbury, MA, LMFT, ATR-BC, Executive Director of Art Lab Rx, LLC

Art Lab Rx, LLC
10225 Yellow Circle Drive
Minnetonka, MN 55343

Phone: 612-226-5472

Art Lab Rx, LLC was created in 2015 by Lisa M. Lounsbury. Art Lab Rx is a registered trademark. © 2018 Art Lab Rx. All rights reserved.