Art Therapy: It’s essential

by | Apr 17, 2020 | 0 comments

Welcome to the Jungle

Things aren’t easy. Stress, uncertainties, fears, tensions, snow in April (really, again?). Our government has implemented physical distancing to protect our health and ease the tension on our healthcare system. In regards to our mental health, we have to figure it out for ourselves. Yes, the PM has given us phone numbers to call in times of crisis. But we have to call; no one is going to call us.  Throughout the years, we’ve witnessed major government cuts in our mental health services, programs to help our youth, in our arts and culture services, including the education curriculum, the mental health & addiction programs, and for senior’s initiative programs, etc.  We are finding physical distancing so difficult because it’s putting a big pause on our social, artistic and cultural life. When the government implements cuts in the healthcare system, the first that leaves the walls is art and design. Studies have shown that patients require more pain medication and anti-depressants in facilities with no art therapies than in facilities where arts and designs are integrated. Now, as I nurse, I could have told you that one, but we’ll give the bragging rights to the researchers.

Why I am talking about art therapy today? Because it’s essential. My pantry has never been ready for a pandemic. I only buy canned coconut milk and tomato paste. Grandmas are the ones who buy the kids their KD, Oreo cookies and other carbohydrates. I rarely buy frozen food… But that’s not the point. My Arts & Craft boxes (plural) of supplies have been pandemic ready since 2010. I love paint, I love stickers, I love old magazines, I love glitter, I love scrapbook paper, I love artificial flowers, and the list goes on. And let’s face it, by being home all the time, my recycle box has been filling up rather quickly. Put two and two together and you get an endless possibility for arts and crafts. I’ve always found crafting calming and yet, it’s what I would do the least out of my entire day, week, month… year! I guess until now. Throughout the last month, the kids and I have crafted a lot. No alarm clocks, no nasty lunch boxes to clean, no after school classes,… but tons of crafts. It’s when they are at their calmest. Maybe my paint and glitter have secret endorphin particles hidden in them?

Art is sensory: Music, Theatre, Food, Painting, Crafting, Meditating,… anything that is truly yours. Art lets you explore. Art keeps us active and helps us manage pain. Art makes any environment more enjoyable: home, work, outdoors, etc. It’s a safe space to express emotions and share experiences. How did Italy artistically express themselves through times of crisis? By singing on their balconies to each other? What are residents in our communities doing to cheer each other up? Posting pictures of rainbows in their windows, so people who take a walk can see a pop of color. Art has been resilient through all the pandemics in history.  It lets us speak the unspeakable, because let’s face it, words can be complex. In a time of great psychological distress and mental trauma, it ain’t Math & Physics that are going to save my sanity. Honestly, all the numbers I see are awful. But Art has supported us and has helped us manage our wellbeing. It has brought us closer together. Times are challenging and this has been much needed.

We created the family’s first Jungle Diorama. To be honest, I wanted to craft this project with my son last summer, but “life was too busy”. I’m truly thankful that we got to create it this week. Here’s a list of items we used:

  • Cardboard boxes
  • Construction paper
  • Egg carton
  • News paper
  • Acrylic paint
  • Rocks and stones
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Glitter
  • Fake leaves
  • Moss
  • Stickers
  • Glitter
  • Tons of hot glue gun

We even created little turtles out of a cut up egg carton which we painted, added pompoms and “googley-eyes”. The cave was made out of cardboard and paper maché, and we glue some “gem stones” on the outside. The tree trunks are made of cinnamon sticks. The water cascade is made of cardboard, egg carton and stones. The random black cardboard box next to the jungle the T-Rex’s cage. It took a few hours to put up together, but there is no time limit how this diorama can keep the kids busy. #wellness

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