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How to Have a Good Work-Life Balance / The Benefits of Making Art ～Cyndy講師からの便り～
”The Benefits of Making Art”
I have always enjoyed sketching ever since I was young. I remember that in kindergarten when the class gets chaotic, the teacher would distract the kids with crayons and papers. And after a few minutes, just like magic, everything would be peaceful again. There’s just something about working with your hands that gets you centered and calm, somehow. It could be any other craft actually, not just drawing or sketching. When you do something with your hands – whether it’s gardening, baking, knitting, journaling, or pottery, time seems to slow down, and so does your heartbeat. You get so focused on that one thing, which is very uncommon and unheard of if you are living in a fast-paced environment.
As we get older, we are expected to multi-task and forget about mundane things to “get things done” as quickly as possible. Living at a slow pace is considered slacking. This has been causing stress for most workers. Getting stressed from time to time and having enough time to calm down or recover is not entirely bad. That’s how we grow and learn how to step out of our comfort zone. But accumulated stress, over long periods of time, could be very harmful to our physical and mental health.
After about a decade in this “working world”, I have fallen quite a few times into that “stress trap”. It’s different from the stress that I have experienced when I was a student wherein failing in school only means getting poor grades. It took me quite a while to figure out the best way for me to work around it. I knew that challenges would always be a part of my life, I can never completely run away from them. If I do, it means I am refusing to grow. But there are ways to cope with these challenges. We call them ‘hobbies’ and they tend to help us have that much-needed work-life balance.
During the last few years, I find myself reaching for art materials whenever I feel like there are too many things running in my mind. It’s my way of hitting that “pause” or “break” before I get burnout. I still sketch at times, but I do mostly watercolor painting these days. When I’m painting, I feel like I’m back at that kindergarten where things are much simpler and more peaceful. Most people find this hobby of mine a bit ‘childish’ but it’s been giving me a lot of positive energy and serenity, so, I don’t mind if they call it that way. I simply love the fact that even just for several minutes or hours, I can feel centered and calm even after having a rough day. I find myself having a better perspective in life once I’m done painting. It’s like putting my thoughts on paper but in a colorful way. It feels like a moving meditation or a ‘mind spa’ if there’s such a thing.
Some people are into sports or something that involves getting outdoors, and that’s a great way to relieve stress. I miss walking around my favorite park as well, however, since the city where I’m living is almost always on lockdown these days, I don’t have that option for now. So, all I can do is take advantage of the therapeutic effects of making art while I’m in quarantine.