Healthier Generation’s social-emotional health expert, Elizabeth Cook, recently gave me a book called Teacher’s Guide to Resiliency through the Arts. The book explores how creative arts can encourage well-being for children (and adults) experiencing adversity. Here’s one of my favorite quotes:
Arts activities that include touch, pleasant smells, visualizations, movement, and/or pleasant sounds all work to soothe the body and restore equilibrium in the brain for rational decision-making.
If you’re ready to embrace the restorative power of art, below are 8 ideas to try. Don’t worry, most of the activities use supplies you probably already have on hand; flex your creativity and adapt the activities too – just be sure to share your great ideas with me on social media.
Mindful Musical Minute
Get comfortable and put on your favorite song or maybe a classic you haven’t heard in a while. As you listen, focus on one part of the music. Perhaps the sound of a string instrument or a steady drumbeat. Once the song is over, write down how you feel and any observations. How might this exercise help you (or the families you serve) “wind down” for better sleep when anxiety is high?
Virtual Self-Care Mural
Leverage social media for social good! Use leftover paper cut outs or make your own — like a heart shape — and draw or write your favorite #SelfCareSunday tip. Snap a photo and share on your favorite social media platform. Tag your squad and challenge them to share their ideas too.
Did you know you can buy a stack of 100 blank mailable postcards for around $10 online? If you’re feeling isolated or frustrated, make a list of people you’d like to reconnect with. Paint, draw or use markers to create a one-of-a-kind postcard.
Nature Sensory Box
Go for a walk through your backyard, park, or even just down the street. Walk slowly, taking a moment for a few deep breaths – enjoying the smell of the trees, grass, and flowers. Gather items that have naturally fallen from trees to create a box of materials to reflect on. If you do this activity with children, invite them to sketch the items, make observations, and even predictions. Here are a few prompts:
Group the items by color, shape, or size. Which ones are most similar or different?
Which items would float in water?
Which items would a bird use to build a nest?
Fruit and Vegetable Suncatchers
Brighten up your morning with an easy-to-make suncatcher. Start by exploring Foods of the Month. Pick a fruit or vegetable and tear pieces of tissue paper to create your artwork. Dilute glue with water and apply to wax paper using a brush. Apply the tissue paper to the glue, tap it down and let air dry. Once dry, you can peel your tissue paper suncatcher off the wax paper. Use scissors to clean up the shape and hang in a sunny spot. It’s a simple craft to remind you to eat a rainbow of colors each day.
Mantra River Rock
Let’s face it – we can all use more daily affirmation. Create your own reminder by painting a river rock with a positive saying or mantra. It could be as simple as the word “empathy” to remind you to consider the challenges others are facing. If you’re working virtually, set up a call with a few friends to connect and share your inspiration.
Add a little physical activity to your next movie night. During commercials or breaks, host a quick dance party. For inspiration, Hip Hop Public Health has some great follow-along dances. For an extended break, make up your own dance as a family or host a living room or backyard talent show!
Creating a do-it-yourself planter is a great way to brighten up your workspace. Whether you’re starting from seed or re-growing produce (see page 11), an evening of making and creating will bring mindfulness to your day.
For breakfast, I enjoyed a homemade sweet potato muffin.