As part of Bedlam: Arts and Mental Health Festival I was invited to be part of a half day symposium examining the use of arts within wellbeing and mental health. The room was brimming with a variety of people interested in wellbeing and the arts. Composers, directors, potters, writers, actors all made up a curious and exploratory energy in the room who, at the end of the morning, had come up with A Collective Hive-Mind List of 20 Wellbeing Reminders (see below).
The morning began with Artistic Director Janice Connolly from Women In Theatre sharing their approaches for delivering impactful workshops and performances about mental health and for mental health settings (which, by the way, felt like a word-hug and reminded me about the importance of humility, play, equality and connection in engaging and maintaining wellbeing).
Then, with three excellent theatre practitioners, I shared my practice as an artist wellbeing practitioner. Caroline Horton, a theatre maker and performer, spoke about her production Mess that is based upon her own experiences living with an eating disorder. Rachel Bagshaw, a director and theatre maker, shared her experiences of our work together on her she The Shape of the Pain - a show based upon her experiences living with chronic pain syndrome. And Ed Collier, a theatre producer who runs China Plate, spoke about how having an artist wellbeing practitioner working with Caroline and Rachel impacted his role as producer (China Plate produces Mess and The Shape of the Pain).
After Caroline, Rachel, Ed and I spoke about working together I asked the room to get into small groups of 3-4 and come up with Five Top Wellbeing Tips. We then all shared these with the group, instantaneously creating A Collective Hive-Mind List of 20 Wellbeing Reminders. I think it is brilliant and a great reminder of what we can do to help ourselves.
Being honest with yourself
Accountability for downtime
Cultivate a Culture of Kindness
Dedicate space and time each week - with others! - to look after our own and each others' wellbeing
Saying "No' is necessary and an act of bravery not weakness
Be open-minded to your needs by listening to self and being flexible
Discover and maintain your boundaries
Be clear in your communication to others and self
Have a dedicated "Go to"/"Check in" person
Know where the support is
Play! - be creative in a "non-productive" way
Plan and think
Make time to review, digest and learn
Spend time with loved ones
Spend time out-doors
Get enough sleep and eat well
Why not copy the list, print it out and choose one each day to give yourself something to contemplate in the background as you work. Turn each one into a question: "Am I dancing enough?", "Do I know where my boundaries are (in general/for this conversation/this meeting)?", "When did I last spend time outdoors?"
You can go through the list 1-20, or lob a dart at it, or get your cat or pet hamster to sniff one out for you, or write them all on stones in a big jar and pick one out at random like wellbeing-bingo! It doesn't matter how you engage with your own wellbeing needs, the important thing is that you do.
Let me know how you get on and what you'd add!