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    Category Archives: stress and wellness

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    The year that was: Stress & Wellness

    {Throughout January, we’re looking back at all the posts our awesome columnists wrote for us in 2012, before our team of some new and some returning contributors start blogging in February.}

    Amongst the hustle-bustle of creative life, which so often comprises many projects ‘on the go’, it’s nice to be reminded to take a moment to look after our minds and bodies (after all, they are quite important tools of one’s creative output!). Each month in 2012 Emily reminded us to stop and recognise what makes us stressed or unwell, and take steps to live and work in a healthier way. Perfectly timed and always helpful, Emily’s posts were a breath of fresh air to the blog ;). Thanks, Emily! x tess

    Harnessing the Power of the Breath for increased creativity

    It may sound odd to be starting the year talking about something as simple as breathing…after all it’s a function that happens automatically and we generally don’t pay much attention to it unless there’s a problem. Read more…

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    We sit but do we stretch?

    There are times I feel like the only muscle I’m exercising is the spreading mass covering the desk chair I sit in. Hours can go by without a postural flinch and I know I’m not alone. Equally there are tasks and professions that require the same repetitive movement. Read more…

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    Understanding Stress – Real or Imaginary?

    Some years ago a doctor told me I had the equivalent stress of five sabre-toothed tigers chasing after me. Read more…

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    Putting the Brakes on Stress

    There’s a great line about stress being like dark chocolate – while a few squares can be good for you, too much can tip you over the edge… Read more…

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    Winter Wellness

    There’s a chill in the air that reminds us that Winter is well on the way, if not here already… Read more…

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    Creativity through Meditation (Part 1)

    Call it meditation, mindfulness, being still, present or quiet time – this ancient method of bringing balance and connection is making a modern day resurgence. Read more…

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    Creativity through Meditation (Part 2)

    Mary Caia is an intuitive painter who has been allowing the internal expression and creativity shown to her through meditation, relaxation and dreams to transfer externally to the canvas. Read more…

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    Putting a Spring in your step

    As the daffodils start to bloom and snippets of sunshine begin to peak through there’s a chirp in the air that can only mean springtime is around the corner. Read more…

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    Tips for a well workspace

    With spring time comes the phrase ‘spring clean’ …where we turf out wardrobes, dust off exercise equipment and create space for all the exciting projects and ideas ahead. Read more…

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    Surviving the Silly Season

    This is the sort of post I thought I’d be writing for December in the run up to the peak of festivities…but it seems like everything is creeping forward and next month is already “too busy.”  Not to mention there’s a little spring racing fever sweeping through race tracks, wardrobes and champagne bottles at the moment. Read more…

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    Art as Therapy

    As we round out the end of this year’s column exploring all things wellness and creativity, it seems fitting to look at an area which encompasses both of these – art as therapy (or perhaps more accurately – exploring personal growth and empowerment through creativity). Read more…


    Posted by: Tess McCabe
    Categories: stress and wellness, the year that was | Comments Off
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    Stress & Wellness: Art as Therapy

    By Emily Harrison

    As we round out the end of this year’s column exploring all things wellness and creativity, it seems fitting to look at an area which encompasses both of these – art as therapy (or perhaps more accurately – exploring personal growth and empowerment through creativity).

     “All children are born artists, the problem is to remain an artist as we grow up.” ~ Pablo Picasso

    For me, the ability to paint and draw peaked early…at around aged five…and that’s about where it stayed. Creativity instead has come to me through words and other forms…but I do wonder what would happen if I picked up a paint brush.  This seed thought led me to investigate further the area of Art Therapy, and I was intrigued to discover it goes far beyond the paint brush.  I interviewed Melbourne-based Creative Arts Therapist and Artist, Jennifer Berlingieri, to find out more about this modality and how she balances her own artistic pursuits while working in a creative field…

    Hi Jennifer, tell us a little about Creative Arts Therapy?
    In Creative Arts Therapy sessions, we use creative therapy and counselling to support and encourage self-exploration and personal development.  It is appropriate for anyone who is interested in deeper self-awareness and personal growth, and no previous arts experience is necessary.

    What’s the difference between Art Therapy and Creative Arts Therapy?
    The main difference is that Art Therapy only uses visual art, like drawing, painting and clay, for creative expression and personal growth.  In Creative Arts Therapy we use Art Therapy, as well as other creative modalities, like Dance-Movement Therapy, writing, symbols, mindfulness, sand tray, music and more as therapeutic tools to assist and empower people in their personal exploration.

    How did you become interested in this as a modality?
    My interest in Art Therapy evolved from a combination of factors. Years ago, I left my first career in New York in Fashion to go off travelling.  I ended up travelling for a number of years, settled in Australia and was in transition between careers.  I was living out bush in NSW and dedicated a lot of my time to finally exploring art making.  I gave myself permission to buy art materials for the first time and had a go at drawing, painting, collage, 3D sculpture, whatever I could, and not only did I absolutely love it, but I realised that the art making was helping me process whatever emotional experiences I was going through at the time.  In combination with my old favourites of journalling and dancing, art making was a new kind of personal language that really helped me express myself to myself, feel validated and figure some things out. It was a very powerful experience.

    Eventually I questioned, “Are other people doing this?”  So after some research I discovered Creative Arts Therapy was a formal therapeutic modality, not just some odd thing that I was doing!

    Can and do artists or people in creative fields need/use art therapy?
    Absolutely, artists can and do benefit from Creative Arts Therapy!  I often find that people who are artistically inclined might have to move away a bit from their expectation that their creative work has to be of a certain aesthetic, or that it needs to be “good”.  That’s a lot of pressure!  Using creativity as a therapeutic modality is a completely different context to using it as fine art or for commercial means.  The emphasis is not on the finished product, but on the meaning one finds in their work and what one can learn about one self from the process.  So what matters is that the work is authentic, honest, and heartfelt.  What it looks like doesn’t matter at all!

    The feedback I get from people in creative fields is that Creative Arts Therapy helps them move away from their expectations, loosen up, experiment and return to the sense of play that’s often lost when creativity is taken “too seriously”.  This can be a very powerful way of moving through creative blocks.  On a deeper level however, it helps them to therapeutically explore the personal issues and questions that are important in their lives, and this can lead to long-term life changes and benefits.

    The clients and groups you work with must be incredibly diverse – is it necessary for people to come with a reason, purpose or outcome in mind?
    The people I work with are extremely diverse.  It’s not at all necessary for people to come with a reason or purpose in mind.  Participants only need to be open to the process and whatever evolves out of that.  Like any therapy, what arises is unpredictable.  Very often I’ll have someone attend a private session or workshop with one specific issue in mind, and ultimately they’ll get to a whole deeper level, which often surprises them.  For example, someone might originally attend in order to explore a career change or a relationship issue, but eventually they might go deeper to find they are looking into their core values or their overall behaviour patterns in relationships.

    The benefits I see in people are also diverse, and often surprising.  It’s a privilege to work with people who are willing to be open and experimental, and who value their own personal development and self-knowing.  To see people change or have a little epiphany before my eyes is amazing, and to see them feel empowered because they got to an important realisation in their own way is the most rewarding thing I think.

    How do you make sure you create time and space for your own artistic/creative pursuits?
    This is an ongoing challenge for me, as it is for many people who want to have a creative life as well as a professional one.  One thing that works for me is having a group of like-minded peers that I get together with every month or so, to do debriefing and artwork.  It helps enormously to have the structure and support of the group to make sure that I don’t neglect my own creative expression altogether.

    Another thing I do to stay connected to my creativity is to keep a visual journal, and make just a quick drawing or write a short journal entry early in the morning before I start my day. I don’t do this every day, but even just once a week or once a month is better than nothing. These quick dips into my journal keep me connected to myself and to my own creative expression.  Having said that, I’ve just had a baby a few months ago, so all that is out the window at the moment!

    For those interested in the training or experience to become a Creative Arts Therapist?
    To become a Creative Arts Therapist, you have to do Post Graduate study, either a Graduate Diploma, Master’s or Doctorate.  The course work is experiential, so you’re learning CAT techniques by doing them, rather than hearing about them.  Therefore, the study involves the willingness to do in depth personal development of your own.  The professional experiences of a CAT are endless, as creative therapy techniques can be used to work with very diverse people.

    Many thanks to Jennifer Berlingieri from Creative Arts Therapy for sharing her experience and expertise. 

    Emily Harrison is a writer and yoga teacher with a passion for understanding our unlimited potential. This is her last post for the CWC and she’s enjoyed writing and sharing on all things wellness for the CWC audience this year. In 2013 she will be delving more into her own writing and creative pursuits. Do keep intouch over at iamem.com, @emyogawrite. Wishing you the best of health and boundless creativity.


    Posted by: Emily Harrison
    Categories: business tips, regular columns, stress and wellness | Comments Off
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    Stress & Wellness: Surviving the Silly Season

    By Emily Harrison

    This is the sort of post I thought I’d be writing for December in the run up to the peak of festivities…but it seems like everything is creeping forward and next month is already “too busy.”  Not to mention there’s a little spring racing fever sweeping through race tracks, wardrobes and champagne bottles at the moment.

    So if like me you may be feeling a little stretched (and not in the good way) then let’s talk tips for maintaining one’s sanity and beaming serenity as we stride towards 2013.

    Make a date… with yourself.  Schedule it, sync it and make it non-negotiable with your self. Do not apologise for it. Whether it’s an hour in the park at lunch or an afternoon to get your hair done or an evening to watch trashy re-runs. Give yourself space to collect, recharge and take time-out amidst the push and pull of the everyday.

    Start the day well, even if you know it’ll end wild. So you have a week of office/client/friends/family festivities? Then take control of what you do have control of….plan healthy breakfasts, lunches, snacks and plenty of good quality H20.

    Hydrate and drink responsibly. We all know it but sometimes the synapses forget to connect between those effervescent bubbles and the karaoke machine.  Take care on hot days and remember to love your liver. A squeeze of lemon in warm water to start the day can do wonders (great for jetlag if travelling too).

    Play smart in the sun. It’s nice to be enjoying warmer weather – take care to love the skin you are in and play safe in the sun. The free SunSmart app can help to know where the UV levels are at.

    Exercise! It does not start as a new year’s resolution! Maintain your routine (or build one in) to keep you feeling good well before 1 January.

    Smiling eyes, open heart (a.k.a ‘Trying Not to Lose Your Marbles’). We all know holiday seasons are not always like the card they come with (Love, Peace and White Doves anyone?) they can feel like testing times; they can bring up emotions, they can challenge our patience, rile our inner peace and you haven’t even carved the turkey yet.  So if you find yourself propelling towards mental or emotional mayhem, consider the breathing thing we started the year with, or a few moments quiet time…even if it’s in the loo.

    Reflect and acknowledge. So often we are just hanging out for the start of a New Year, as if the slate clears come 12:01 AM.  I know because I think that too at times, and I know that this year has been incredibly challenging for many people, myself included.  What I have found is that from tough times come little gems of insight and understanding that can help you to shine again – possibly in completely different ways. Consider a few minutes for reflecting and acknowledging the positives the year as brought you – from new acquaintances, to new opportunities to new awareness’s.  (and because we’ll all be like rhuuhlyyy busy in December why not make your list over the coming weeks?)

    May you go gently, with a loving kindness to self over the coming months.

    Emily Harrison is a yoga teacher and freelance writer. She still likes to leave out something for the reindeers and elves. You can read more at iamem.com 


    Posted by: Emily Harrison
    Categories: regular columns, stress and wellness | 1 Comment
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    Stress & Wellness: Tips for a well workspace

    By Emily Harrison

    With spring time comes the phrase ‘spring clean’ …where we turf out wardrobes, dust off exercise equipment and create space for all the exciting projects and ideas ahead.

    Well in an ideal world that is what would happen.

    I myself was lucky to find the keyboard to write this column under what I would like to defend as a “system of organised chaos” …but really is just a cluttered workspace.

    And so with some spring-time vigour I took a look at what aides a healthy workspace. To help me I had a chat with a lady who knows more about feng shui than I and with her French accent and full hand gestures, Christiane taught me a lot more than just tips for workspace wellness.

    “You know Emilleee, clutter on ze desk means clutter in ze mind” (hmm clearly she wasn’t aware of my extraordinary touch typing abilities under forests of paper…but she could be on to something).

    “To be able to create, you have to be organised in life,” she continued. Lucky the CWC have a columnist dedicated to ‘Organise Me’.

    So what practical steps could one take to help bring a sense of harmony and balance to a workspace?

    • Step 1 is to de-clutter. Clutter is stale energy so start moving it, literally. Clutter or mess adds a heavy weight to your environment so when you de-clutter you create space for positive energy to flow in. Place everything into its own spot (and if it doesn’t have one then do you need it?).
    • Create time to clear…regularly. We know what it’s like to become absorbed in a piece or find “the zone” … but we can forget to create time to clear and find we’ve become covered in piles of thread, material cut-offs, or in my case…a forest of paper. Give yourself 30mins to refocus and create space to allow the creative genius to flourish.
    • Let’s talk lighting. Aim for natural lighting where possible and consider supporting lights and/or using a magnifying glass for fine tasks such as needlework.
    • Cleanliness – it goes without saying. We’ve all heard the revealing reports on keyboard hygiene. Pick up the tea-bags, clear off the crumbs. Stat.
    • Work in nature – while I was tempted to move my office to the park, Christiane was referring to incorporating natural elements in to your office or home– or in her words “humans cannot be at peace unless nature is present” (think earth, water, stone, wood, metal elements etc). Which is why plants or flowers in a vase of water are great to have around. Plants, while also looking good, help to absorb negative energy. They also seem more manageable than goldfish for me.
    • Work in inspiration – someone once said to surround yourself only with things that are useful, beautiful or that uplift. Wise words whether you apply it to the home or the office.

    Sometimes we need to start small

    So with that in mind, I am armed with helpful tips (and no more excuses) for tweaking my workspace to let the energy and creativity flow to its best potential.

    I’d love to hear your tips or ideas?

    With thanks to landscape architect and feng shui expert Christiane Seletto for sharing her wisdom.

    Emily Harrison is a writer and yoga teacher with an interest in what makes us healthy, thriving creative beings. She also finds herself stuck under piles of paper at times. You can read more at iamem.com 

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    Posted by: Emily Harrison
    Categories: business tips, regular columns, stress and wellness | 1 Comment