It’s the seventh year of International Day of Happiness, and it couldn’t come at a more extraordinary time. With the incessant documentation of Coronavirus, many individuals with pre-existing mental health issues may experience a surgein symptoms. Even those with a relatively clear head have probably found themselves more anxious, given the dissemination of scenes depicting what can only be described as societal devolution en masse. Images of shoppers ransacking shelves for toilet paper have left many unnecessarily stressed, and quite frankly bewildered by this unhelpful hysteria (especially those of us blessed with a bidet).
I hate to break it to you, but if you’ve calculated you need 240 rolls of toilet paper for a 14-day quarantine, then you should definitely see a doctor soon.
This isn’t the time to retreat into your individualistic bubble, Coronavirus is a strong reminder that we are not actually individuals; we are a deeply-interconnected network of beings that rely heavily on each other for survival.
Life has officially made the digital dash online, but with increased internet consumption comes increased exposure to excessive updates on the issue. So while we follow guidelines to look after ourselves and others, we invite you to find reprieve in the form of the mindful act of creativity.
First Things First: What is ‘Mindfulness’?
Originating from Buddhism, mindfulness seeks to focus your awareness on the physical sensations of your body. This can be achieved by focussing on a particular part of your body (for example, your hand) and how it feels in relation to an object (say, the paintbrush). It is a simple but hugely-effective method that permits a heightened ability in regulating emotions, thoughts and navigating challenging life changes.
Drawing, painting or colouring is such an effective meditative practice for the mind because it grounds you in the present. Realising an artwork is a gradual process, allowing you to focus on the creation as it happens rather than the prospective outcome. For many across the globe, the prospect of quarantine is more overwhelming than the quarantine itself, so reducing ‘cognitive avoidance’ is vital at this time. ‘Cognitive avoidance’describes negative strategies such as worry, distractions or panic used to escape intrusive thoughts. Simply by colouring or drawing, the brain is focussed on one action, allowing us to approach thoughts with an increased sense of awareness, positivity and perspective.
While you colour, draw or paint, attempt to channel your emotions through your tool of choice. Assign a colour to the most prominent emotion you’re feeling in that moment, and observe any physical sensations that manifest with that emotion. If you’re feeling stressed then maybe you might find your grip is a little tighter around your paintbrush than it needs to be, or your jaw is clenched and teeth are grinding. Through the simple act of colouring, unseen and unrecognised physical responses can be identified and managed before they descend into a more toxic coping mechanism.
We know how important it is to check in with yourself, so we have teamed up with our formidable artists to create an e-colouring book for users to download and print at home. The e-book features the outline of the works of our artists, where both adults and children alike can mindfully colour in the images, and allow their brains some repose from this anxious period.
The e-books cost 3 euros, and all proceeds will be donated to Fondazione IRCCS Ca’ Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, to help them meet the unfathomable demands of Coronavirus. You can request your e-book Here. We hope you’ll help us raise both money and spirits during this tumultuous period, and we’d love to know how you feel before and after colouring in your e-books.