Graduate school is possibly the dumbest, most, painful, most enriching torture I have ever decided to put myself through. I am constantly reading, researching, and rewriting. But I love it. No, I am not a masochist, despite what I might say in my sleep-deprived phone calls to my mother. I’m studying what I love, as is anyone who is graduate school – I should hope – and I couldn’t be happier. But I also can’t imagine how people work full time and go to school full time and even have families too! Let alone extracurricular things that I see my friends engaging in. How do people have the time for life?
Since I have started graduate school I’ve found that if I don’t make time for myself, there will be no diploma on my shelf. I will lose it! First, I should tell you, I’m in school to be an art therapist, so I am coming from a slightly biased, albeit very supported stance that art can heal all kinds of ills. Being in school to be an art therapist, I’ve found out why self-care is so important and how art can help soothe the psychic woes and stress-filled heart of every graduate student (and every person, in my opinion) who is in need of a little TLC.
Making art is a human urge. We make things because it satisfies something within us. It allows us to clarify, amplify, simplify, and own our experiences in a way that is not a pressure-filled as talking and explaining. It gets to the core of a feeling and in turn, that feeling becomes a concrete “thing” that its creator can look at and engage with on a different level. There are gobs – totally professional, right? – of research that have shown art making can reduce stress. For this type of work, any art making will do, but for us busy grad students, a preformed mandala can be just the ticket. There are many beautiful designs to choose from. Try it out, see what you think. If coloring isn’t for you, free form drawing, collaging, painting, stamping, really whatever seems interesting to you could be perfect. How many pictures have you seen on your social network feed of groups of happy people holding up their painting from one of those fabulous sip and paint classes? Right? Tons! It’s fun and there is truly no right or wrong way to make art. So next time you’re feeling totally flummoxed and fried, grab a pen, a marker or a paint brush and see what happens. You might surprise yourself.