Micro Practices for Mental Health with Sally Ann Conwell

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Key Points

  • It is so important for educators and caregivers to also care for themselves, to offer themselves a space to adequately rest and recover, to engage with things that fill up their cup. You are so worthy of care, too!
  • Creative sparks exist everywhere you look, offering us a moment to ‘ground’ ourselves, to slow down, to observe, learn, practice creativity, practice imagination, to engage with the world with all of our senses, to see beauty, to bring joy, and to increase a greater sense of vibrancy and delight in everyday life. 
  • Creative sparks are moments in time, objects, or things which we can choose to become consciously aware of, connect to, and thereby ‘spark’ a sense of beauty, joy, delight, curiosity, or even learning.

On this page

About Sally Ann Conwell

About the Window of Tolerance

The 'idea' of the Creative Spark

Understanding the 'micro-universe'

What to expect in the Session

 

Check-in with yourself

For all those who work with young children and families, Covid-19 has brought many challenges as service providers, teachers and educators work through the complexities faced on a day-to-day basis. Educators are sharing stories of stress, and their emotional and mental wellbeing is impacted. More than ever, finding practical tools to check-in with oneself is incredibly important. 

Sally Ann Conwell is a painter, illustrator, visual artist and art therapist and supports her clients through tools of imaginative play, drawing, and storytelling to increase and strengthen wellbeing and mental health, and to offer gentle spaces of healing, self discovery, exploration and joy.

In March, Gowrie NSW Education Hub is hosting a special event webinar ‘Micro Practices for Mental Health’ presented by Sally along with Caitlin Marshall from Makeshift Creative. Jessica asked Sally some questions to learn a little more about this event and how it can support early childhood professionals during this time. 

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For the online workshop in March, the ‘Window of Tolerance’ will be discussed as a universal tool for checking in, noticing, and doing a personal mental health check. Where did the ‘Window of Tolerance’ come from and why is it important for those working in a care relationship with others to go through this checking in process?  

‘The Window of Tolerance’ is a term developed by Dan Siegel, a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry. It describes the ‘zone’ in which a person is able to function most effectively. 

When we are within our window of tolerance, we are able to manage emotions, challenges and moments of everyday stress with relative ease. Chronic on-going stress however, without adequate self care, pushing beyond our own healthy boundaries, and traumatic events can push us outside of this Window of Tolerance into dysregulation, hypo-arousal (where we might feel a sense of fight/ flight energy, anxiety or be overwhelmed)  or hyper-arousal ( where we may feel depleted, run-down, slow, depressed.) It is so important for those in care relationships to also, care for themselves, to offer themselves a space to adequately rest and recover, to engage with things that fill up their cup. You are so worthy of care, too! By practising tuning into our bodies and ourselves we might be able to witness where in relation to our window of tolerance we currently are, are we within it, or outside of it? Stressors can shrink our window of tolerance, making it even easier to move into dysregulation, however, there are many amazing tools we can use to move back into the window and even expand the size of it! Some of these for me is swimming, meditation, writing in a journal and of course, being creative… but they can be different for everyone. We can’t wait to share more of these tools with you! 

 

Can you tell us a little more about this idea of the creative spark – what could an example of this be or look like?

Creative sparks are moments in time, objects, or things which we can choose to become consciously aware of, connect to, and thereby ‘spark’ a sense of beauty, joy, delight, curiosity, or even learning. This might be the way the sun shines on a leaf on your afternoon walk, the warmth of your teacup on your hands, the strange shape of a kitchen utensil. It could be truly anything. These ‘creative sparks’ offer us an opportunity to engage, to become mindful, to celebrate or to learn more.  

For example: Witnessing the beautiful light bouncing on a leaf on my afternoon walk. 

I could ask, what kind of tree is this? Are all of the leaves doing the same? What other inhabitants are part of this tree? Is it native? What time of day is it? Where is the light coming from? How far is the sun from the earth? Could I draw this leaf? Can I touch it with my hand? Or touch the bark of the tree? How do I feel in this moment? Perhaps I feel like this leaf reflecting light, or perhaps I would like to feel more like it… 

You may like to even just observe for a moment. Whatever feels right for you, creative sparks exist everywhere you look, offering us a moment to ‘ground’ ourselves, to slow down, to observe, learn, practice creativity, practice imagination, to engage with the world with all of our senses, to see beauty, to bring joy, and to increase a greater sense of vibrancy and delight in everyday life. 

 

In the workshop you will support the participants to understand the micro-universe around them - in a nutshell could you describe what a micro-universe is?

The micro-universe invites us to slow down, to observe up close, to touch, smell, see, feel, to truly engage with all that is around us, it is the place where these ‘creative sparks’ often hide. It is easy to walk by the tree that exists in our front yard every day and not notice its elements of beauty. The Micro-universe asks us to come and look a little closer. Here, we find out there are amazing stories to learn, questions to ask, prompts for the imagination, or simple moments that delight and intrigued. Suddenly we see the colours of the bark, the bugs, the patterns, the bird nest in its canopy, the root system,and the way the leaves dance in the golden afternoon sun, you might even hear them ask if you would like to dance with them. 

 

This workshop is unique in that participants will experience a ‘creative adventure’ with you. Do participants need to have experience in the visual arts to go on this adventure?

Participants need no experience in visual arts. This is truly about being an explorer of your world again, to practice engaging with our environments to delight and play, which in turn strengthens our mental wellbeing, widen our window of tolerance and can create a joy feedback loop. One joy, can guide us to another joy, which creates another joy.  

 

Many of us are feeling exhausted and drained from the ongoing pressure of working in a pandemic environment what can participants expect from this session that will support their wellbeing and help them with the essential work they do each day?  

It has been a wild ride, we think you are amazing! In this session, we invite you to come as you are, exhausted, or buzzing from your 3rd coffee or anywhere in between. It is a safe, gentle space, to learn about some ways you can offer yourself extra support, rest, and joy. You can expect to leave the session with a few extra tools in your tool box that can support your unique journey, mental health and wellbeing.  

 

Take some time out for your personal wellbeing and register for this special event

Topics: Teaching Strategies and Practice

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