Earlier this year, Stephanie Thorson reached out to the LLSC about working with the blood cancer community to lead individuals in one-on-one art therapy sessions. She was able to facilitate the project remotely; participants just needed an Internet connection and basic art supplies.
In-person programs are not an option right now, and a global pandemic means that stress levels are at an all-time high for a lot of people living with a blood cancer. We were thrilled to be able to offer this link to mindfulness and anxiety reduction.
Stephanie led the sessions in May and June, asking participants to try to connect with nature and be mindful of their surroundings, rather than judging the art they were creating.
Here are Stephanie’s findings:
“Participants were less anxious and much more relaxed after creating simple art outdoors using mindfulness techniques. Participants had little or no art making experience and were interested in finding an enjoyable and accessible way to find relief from personal and global stresses.
The project aimed to determine whether spending time in nature making mindful art could benefit people’s moods and provide them with a helpful tool they could use in their everyday life. The most significant results were that participants reported their degree of relaxation deepened significantly and they reported decreases in anxiety levels. Please give your impressions of this project by answering four short questions.
Participants found creating simple art in nature opened a new pathway to mindfulness by providing a soft focus for their attention without feeling overly challenged or overwhelmed. Being in nature enhances our ability to be mindful and being mindful enhances our nature experience.
Participants gave themselves permission to be immersed in their urban nature surroundings, and to suspend judgement of their art. Whether from their balcony or porch, people connected more deeply with nature and noticed more details and nuances in their surroundings, including colours, shadows, shapes and patterns by creating images inspired by what they saw and heard.
Sometimes slower is faster and taking time to connect to the breath and noticing what is in front of us through art can be very healing, reduce stress and anxiety, and promote relaxation.”
Here is what participants had to say about the sessions with Stephanie:
“I didn’t realize how intriguing and relaxing mindful art can be.”
“If I had just sat outside, I wouldn’t have felt as relaxed and connected with nature.”
“I could slow down and focus on something that is creative and joyful.”
This is some of the art that participants created during their sessions:
Big Red by Lori Kerr