Making Bad Art Really IS Good for You!

I recently read an article that made me extremely happy. It discussed a study that found that making art can reduce stress levels, whether or not you have any experience.  (You can read the full article here.) A group of 39 people of varying ages, races, genders, and experience making art spent 45 minutes either doing collages, modelling with clay, or drawing with markers. Of the people in the study, 75% of them had lower cortisol levels after the session (cortisol is a biological indicator of stress).

And get this—the levels didn’t differ based on prior experience with art-making! Isn’t that great news? It’s just as I said in my old post, “Making Bad Art Is Good for You”—and now there’s scientific proof that’s true! It really takes the pressure off, doesn’t it?

So, here’s your prescription from Dr. Ashley, lol: Create something! Today, or this week, I invite you to set aside some time to play. Get creative in whatever way makes you happiest, whether that’s doodling, coloring, drawing, painting, collage, sewing, knitting, crocheting, cooking, gardening, decorating your home, photography, clay modeling, making music, arranging shells on the beach—whatever feels the most fun. Let yourself just enjoy the process without judging the result (easier said than done, I know, but try it!

Is there something you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t, because you “don’t know how”? There are tons of instructional videos out there. Or you could even—gasp—just play around without any instructions at all! (This makes my inner perfectionist freak out, so I know it’s a good idea!) Go for it! You have nothing to lose and a happier, healthier self to gain!

You can also take classes, which I enjoy because then you’re interacting with other creative souls as well as learning something new. If that appeals to you, you may want to check out the women’s art camp I’ve talked about before (here, here, and here). I’m actually teaching there this year (on creating a restorative daily ritual) and I’m already counting the days! I can’t wait to immerse myself in that magical experience again, connecting with fascinating women and creating our hearts out just for the fun of it! This year’s camp is Wednesday, November 6 through Sunday, November 10 in Hunt, Texas. You can learn more at www.luckystarartcamp.com.

Meanwhile, go play! It’s good for you!

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Take a Tizzy Timeout

The holiday season is here, and I can already feel myself revving up into overwhelm mode. I LOVE the holidays, but I can really stress myself out with all the extra tasks I take on during this time. Cooking, baking, hosting, making and sending out holiday cards, shopping for gifts, decorating … does this sound like your list also? Last year, I was able to use my new morning ritual to stay somewhat centered, and it helped me slow down and enjoy the season more. But I still wore myself out. When things get extra busy, I work myself into a tizzy trying to handle everything as quickly as possible. I tend to keep moving until it’s all done—and then collapse.

This year, I plan to take some short breaks each day—“tizzy timeouts”—to recharge myself as I go. I’ve tried this during crazy-busy days recently and it really helps. Give it a try the next time you find yourself in that whirlwind of activity. Just taking a moment to sit down and breathe, or a few minutes to savor a cup of tea, can make all the difference in how you feel. That tiny little rest restores enough energy to keep going without completely burning out. And it can help make whatever you’re doing a lot more enjoyable!

I also highly recommend a morning ritual, if you don’t already do one—or if you’ve tried but find it hard to implement. For some tips, check out this article I wrote recently for Yoga Journal on “5 Ways to Actually Stick to a Morning Ritual,” or this post on The Daily Positive: “Meaningful Morning Rituals in 10 Minutes or Less.

Whether it’s in the morning, at lunch, in mid-afternoon, or in the evening, carve out some space each day just for you. Take some time to rest and recharge. The holidays are a marathon, not a sprint!

I won’t be posting next week since it’s Thanksgiving, so I’ll see you in December! I hope you have a wonderful, happy Thanksgiving (if you’re in the U.S.) and a lovely week (if you’re not!).

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