For many of us, the long periods of lockdown in Malaysia were an unprecedented life experience and a time in which we each drew upon a range of resources - human and otherwise. In this week’s Blog, Ms Jone Barrenechea (Teacher of Art), shares a personal account of her exploration of Art and Mindfulness and how these wellbeing strategies are serving her and others in our community.
During the first lockdown, I struggled with anxiety and stress. Creative activities, such as drawing and working on projects with friends became my refuge, an outlet. It was the beginning of a journey that took me to complete courses in Foundation Art Therapy and also Mindfulness Foundation. These, coupled with breathing exercises, were incredibly helpful and now I want to share this with others.
My experience doing these courses has reinforced how I feel about Art and the therapeutic role that it can take in helping people feel better and be better, which at times is underestimated. Therefore, I have been exploring the exciting challenge of incorporating these newly learned approaches in my teaching.
Art-making is a source of wellbeing, it can be many things to different people: playful, emotional, meditative, a shared experience, an escape, a dream, a safe space, a way of capturing memories and more.
Art has a proven positive effect on mental health. When we are practising art-related activities such as drawing, painting, or making, we activate different parts of our brain, which in effect improves self-perception, problem-solving and creative thinking. With the current pandemic, it has been clear that young people need further support with their mental health and that it has become a priority in educational institutions around the world, including at KLASS.
Mindfulness and Art have a commonality in that both can be ways to help us to self-regulate, be present, be appreciative and be more effective at navigating emotions. When we bring awareness to a situation we might find that we are able to choose between instinctively reacting to it or pausing and then responding.
At EP, Pastoral teams, Learning Coaches, and teachers offer different opportunities to students to improve their wellbeing through ACHIEVE lessons, Tutor Time, Wellbeing Week, and many more. The school also offers a counselling service. I am currently offering Mindfulness to Key Stage 3 students as part of our Period 7 enrichment programme. During this time, we practice activities such as guided meditations, discussions and practical activities.
The feedback received from students has been eye-opening. These young students from Year 7 to Year 9 find that the guided meditations almost instantly relieve them of tension in their body and the practical activities are a good way to keep focused and help them manage their constant flowing of thoughts.
Slow down, breathe and always be kind to yourself.
Wishing you all a wonderful weekend,