Sculpting Your Ambitions through Visual Journaling

 Visual Journaling is a practice long associated with Art Therapy but it is something anyone can turn their hand to when ever they choose.

The creative practice of visual journaling encourages the art of listening inwards and the exploration of feelings or beliefs that may be lying just below the surface of everyday thoughts.

Below the surface thoughts or the unconscious mind can be like a strong current influencing the direction of your life.  By paying attention to how you feel as you draw, as well as to what images spontaneously arrive, you are shining a little light on these deeper currents. In doing this you gain back some control and can choose to step out of the currents that are less helpful.

There are many reasons why people make space for visual journaling in their daily lives. For some the lure is the stress-reducing benefits that follow engagement in creativity. Others turn to this style of image making for personal exploration. For others the daily practice takes on a more directional guise in the form of “Intention Setting” Visual Journaling.

When you engage your imagination and your creative instincts you connect to a more honest part of yourself which can be really helpful if you are feeling indecisive. You may connect to what you truly need as opposed to what society suggests you want.  

If you have an ambition or a direction you would like to see your life moving towards, then bringing that intention into your image making can help clarify your ambition, which in turn increases and drives your motivation for goal attainment.
Tips for Successful Visual Journaling:
  1. Why: Identify your motivation for journaling, whether that is stress-reduction or a specific personal goal.
  2. Where: Identify where in your home you feel most comfortable engaging with your journal
  3. When: Identify a preferred time of day for sitting uninterrupted with your thoughts and journal… for at least five minutes.
  4. How: Gather and collect pencils, pens, photos, images from print media, fabric pieces and any art materials you have available. Have these to hand with your journal in a special box or bag accessible from your chosen location.
  5. Remember: Trust your own ability to untangle any indecision or block you meet along the way.
  6. Finally: And most importantly make a commitment to yourself, from a place of kindness, that you will maintain the daily practice for 30 days.

For those of you who might prefer the social aspect and peer support of a group environment, our new 10 week course “Mindfulness-Based Creativity for Stress Reduction” with Roisin Kenny starts this February in Douglas, Cork.  

Feel free to let us know how your visual journaling impacts your psychological wellbeing and ambition fulfillment .


Minding Yourself at Christmas - with Mindfulness

With Christmas just around the corner it’s worth pausing for a moment and identifying self-care practices that can help protect your mental and emotional health and reduce the negative effects of stress during the holiday season.

There are so many wonderful ways to practice self-care like taking a bubble bath, switching off your phone but especially protective is the act of being mindful of the present moment. You could opt to pay attention to sounds surrounding you or the breath moving in your body. Mindfulness offers you a practice that is an inner-resource there for you at any time; any place, allowing you to become your own best friend.

Ingredients for a mindful moment include awareness of the present moment, self-compassion towards yourselves and non-judgement.

To think about how this could be beneficial for your health, consider mindfulness for a moment to be like gardening. If you were to tend to a garden and do some weeding every day for a short amount of time, you would become aware of what types of plants exist, what’s growing well, what not so well.

Similarly, if we tend to our thoughts and emotions through mindfulness we become more self-aware of what’s occurring internally, what needs more care, what needs pruning. Over time with this little bit of daily care, the garden becomes a calmer, less overwhelming, more spacious place to be and so too do our own lives.

Christmas is the season to eat, drink and be merry but as we know it can sometimes come with added stresses be they financial or emotional. Loss can be more acutely felt amidst this season of reunions and togetherness. Mindfulness doesn’t stop the stressful events from happening but it does offer you a chance to respond to stress from a calmer, clearer position rather than reacting from an overwhelmed one. For example if you are prone to using distractions to avoid stress – be that with food, shopping, alcohol or even your phone, Mindfulness can help you see and be aware of  this habit as it is happening and offers you the choice to choose differently.

So try a little bit today, sit comfortably, keep the time realistic and manageable, perhaps 3-5 minutes and connect to your breath. If you would like to practice a guided Mindfulness meditation you will find one on our website page. You are also welcome to attend Mind Body Ireland’s next  “Introduction to Mindfulness” workshop at Essential Wellness in the New Year!

Emotional Regulation - a Creative Solution

Art Therapy can be a really good therapeutic option for children and adolescents who need help regulating their emotions.

Emotional regulation is a learnt skill that we begin developing in infancy but for a whole host of reasons we learn this skill at different rates and fine tune it again and again at various stages in life.

When emotional regulation is present children can tolerate disappointments and other minor stressors without becoming dysregulated. Many children and teens however find it challenging to regulate their emotions and unfortunately this can negatively affect their school work, friendships, family life and self-esteem.

Dysregulation can cause either hypo-arousal which results in a flattening of emotions or hyper-arousal which can appear like anxiety or behavioural meltdowns.

Art Therapy helps the body navigate its way from a place of constant emotional dysregulation towards emotional balance.

It has been demonstrated that art-making induces Alpha brainwaves which are associated with relaxation. There is also evidence that art-making reduces cortisol levels (stress hormones) in the body.

However a key factor for improving emotional regulation comes from the relational aspect of the therapy.

A child is supported by the Art Therapist as they put difficult feelings outside themselves onto paper. They can begin to see and know what they are feeling as opposed to acting out what they feel. Through this process they gain a sense of security by having their experiences seen and shared by the therapist. This internal sense of safety can have a wonderfully positive influence on their lives by reducing their sensitivity towards stress - helping them have other options other than dysregulation. 

If you would like to know more about Art Therapy and its role in emotional regulation please get in touch with your concern. 



Art Therapy - Drawing the Inside out

Welcome to the

Mind Body Ireland blog!

For our first blog article we would like to answer some commonly asked questions about Art Therapy.
We hope that you find answers to some of your questions here but remember you can contact us at any time to speak about your personal circumstances and suitability for Art Therapy.

What is Art Therapy ? 

Art Therapy is a style of psychotherapy that utilises personal expression, imagination and creativity. It is often used as a mental health intervention. 
Similarly to talk therapy there can be discussion, sharing, problem solving and personal exploration - but in Art Therapy there is the addition of art materials to further help and guide this exploration.

The ability to verbalise inner feelings is not something that comes easily to everyone so this added mode of communication and self-expression can be very empowering and insightful.

Art Therapy sessions always move at a pace that suits the client and the form of therapeutic work with which they are engaging.  Following an intial assessment or parent consultation a tailored care plan that best suits the clients needs is put in place.

Art Therapy is a sensory experience and often times a person is using and moving their body and hands and engaging all of their senses. Just think about how cotton wool or cold clay feels, what memories flood back at the sight of wax crayons or whether the sound of water stirring sooths or not.  
This sensory aspect of Art Therapy aligns it with mind-body interventions which see the body and the mind influencing and effecting positive change upon each other.
Many leading trauma experts say that psychological trauma is non-verbal and its language is that of images and sensation. The sensory and visual qualities of Art Therapy lend themselves very much to trauma processing.
Maybe you've experienced at some point how difficult it can be to recall clearly or speak about overwhelming, stressful or traumatic events? Recalling such events in therapy can be equally as difficult but having art materials to hand in those moments can provide a stabilising and grounding experience for people. 
For more information on mind body interventions and trauma processing we recommend the book “The Body Holds the Score” by Bessel Van Der Kolk, it is a well worth read. 

Is Art Therapy Just for Children? 

No... both children and adults benefit from this style of creative therapy.
Art Therapy works verbally and non-verbally and so it is very inclusive and open to many different age ranges and personal experiences including anxiety, emotional dysregulation, chronic pain, low self-esteem, gender dysmorphia, birth trauma, bereavement and acquired brain injury.
Under 3’s can even engage in didactic therapy which involves the mum (or a main care giver) and baby partaking together and this can be a great therapy for mum and baby bonding.

Read more: Art Therapy - Drawing the Inside out

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