WELLBEING MONTH: Creativity for Wellbeing with Kate Thirlwall
Continuing with Wellbeing Month here at Independent Oxford, Kate Thirlwall, from Mum’s The Word Poetry, gives us three ways to take some time to care for ourselves during these turbulent times. All you need is a piece of paper, a pen and some colouring pencils or crayons!
Before you do these activities, I invite you to find a quiet sit spot and to get comfortable. Take 3 purposeful, deep breaths in and out and give yourself a reassuring and gentle hug.
These activities are designed to give you an experience of how it feels to look after yourself through creativity. I have chosen three different moods for the activities, depending on whether you feel you need nourishment, hope or a spark of joy at the moment.
I hope you enjoy my offerings, and that they spur you on to incorporate these practices into your regular rhythm.
Focus on your body and think about all that it is coping with at the moment. Choose a part of your body that you feel could really do with some nurture. Now write down some words to describe that part of your body, and what you would like to say to it. You might want to write a thank you letter, a poem or simply a collection of words. This activity can really help you to notice what is happening in your body, and to give you the motivation to take steps to nourish yourself.
For some inspiration, here is a poem I wrote which reflects on how much we are holding in our arms at the moment, especially if we are mothers:
These are my arms
These are my arms,
They wrap you up strong for rest to come,
They are filled with conviction,
Warmed by blood and courage.
With all that they have held,
An army would find peace within them.
They embrace, lift, bear, push, pull, let go, accepting everything into them.
Write the letters of the word grateful on a piece of paper, leaving enough space for you to think of a word to go with each letter. Spend 5 minutes thinking of something you are grateful for which matches each letter in the word, for example ‘G’ could be ‘Growth’.
If you like, and have time, you could write a sentence for each word, acknowledging what you are grateful for: ‘I am grateful for the growth that has come from spending more time at home during the pandemic’.
When you have thought of a word for each letter, you can put your piece of paper on display to help boost your mood when you are finding things tough. Alternatively, you can make this a weekly or monthly exercise and collect your pages as a gratitude journal.
Take a piece of paper and some colouring pencils.
Pick up whichever colours you are drawn to and spend 5 minutes making as many different marks as you can on the paper and try to fill the paper if you can.
This exercise acts as a creative release, and has the added bonus of giving you a colourful spark of joy. If you enjoy it, you can do this regularly but change the materials you use.
You can do the exercise with children, friends and family. It’s a joyful experience because you are focusing on the process, not the product!
Kate Thirlwall is a poet, singer and creative practitioner based in Oxford. One of Kate’s biggest passions is caring for the self through creativity, as she believes that creativity is a critical tool for wellbeing and for the processing of emotion. You can follow Kate on Instagram @mumsthewordpoetry or visit her website www.mumstheword.press to find out more about her work.
Kate has written four poetry collections, most recently one about lockdown entitled ’19: The Isolation Chronicles’ which is available as a pdf on a pay what you feel basis, to support the creative arts during the pandemic. All of Kate’s books contain notes pages so that you can journal your own reactions and experiences. If you would like to purchase a book from Kate, why not pop her a DM to start a conversation?