After almost three years…Some suggestions

crick the audio above and listen. Turn down the volume if it is a little too loud.

It is hard to believe it is getting close to 3 years since the Covid-19 pandemic started. As I don’t have any new client opening most of the time, at least I would like to share my thoughts around the “mental health crisis”.

As a mental health counselor/art therapist, as well as a person on the planet earth, I have been working through this difficult time just like you, your family members and friends. I know it is not always easy. The below are very simple suggestions that I would like to make to help you feel OK.

We have been traumatized. There have been so many things we can be fearful about in the world. Unfortunately, fearfulness itself creates more fear. So how can we shake off some of these fearful things?

  • Acknowledge that things are sometimes unpleasant (sad, scary and annoying) and we are OK to feel those emotions. We don’t have quick and happy endings all the time. Validate your and your loved ones’ unpleasant emotions. You may not have solutions to change those feelings, but once you feel and accept those emotions it is easier to let yourself come back to here and now. We live right now, not in the past, regretting what we did not achieve. Worrying about things that have not happened yet does not change your future. Pay attention to when you feel happy, and what helps you to feel that way, such as warm sunshine, or watching joyful moments with your loved ones, including pets.
  • Limit your online time. This is very important and it includes your streaming time, and playing time with video games. Our brains are overloaded and overstimulated. This stimulation is reinforced by the flood of information and we feel like we can’t live without the internet. Remember, people were able to live without the internet and social media once upon the time. Reducing the time you spend with your cell phone gives you more time to do other relaxing or entertaining things and you should be more able to fall asleep naturally.
  • Dr. Cathy Malchiodi and Dr. Elizabeth Warson, my mentors in the expressive art therapy field, encourage us to move, sing and express ourselves in creative ways.

Walk in nature and use all your senses; right now, you may smell the dry leave and ripening berries and rain. Listen to nature, birds singing, water dripping. Observe and notice what is there. You may notice animal tracks, wet bright colored leaves, something you usually don’t pay attention to. You may take a small, unprocessed food item and eat it as if you have not eaten it before. Of course if you know about berries you find in nature, you may pick one and taste it. Your skin is the largest organ in your body; you can feel the wind, rain and temperature changes and use all your senses.

Now you continue to walk in the natural place. Pay attention to feel the gravity. Pretend to be held by the mother Earth. Imagine your feet are glued on the ground. You may feel the texture of the ground; sandy, muddy, gravely. Pay attention to your body. Do you feel any tension in your body? Please try to feel it. Then take a deep breath. A wonderful book about relaxing breath exercise is:

Breath :New Science of lost Art

Keep walking, keep feeling, using all the senses and feeling your body. You might want to investigate movement exercises demonstarated by Donna Eden in her Youtube video , Energy Work.

You can listen to music and move/dance. You may meditate. You can enjoy playing with your pets.

Please remember that it took us near 3 years to feel how we do, so be patient and kind with yourself.

children's face shield

Face Shield-Basic

This craft shield in no way replaces the N-95 mask or any other professionally prepared protection gear, but it is fun to create a face shield with children and talk about how Covid-19 can be spread and how we can help each other.

This blog helps you to make a basic children’s face shield and visit the decorative face shield for the monster maske shield and more!

Basic face shield

It has been difficult to adjust to our new life since March, 2020. We are entering the 5th month of the Covid-19 pandemic and restricted life here in Seattle/ Bellevue, Washington. Many school districts decided to start classes online in the fall.

Supplies to make a basic shield

You will need;

  1. A piece of sheet foam of any color, 9×12 inches. This is a thin solid spongy material, but not one with holes like a sponge.
  2. Half of a clear plastic report folder
  3. A roll of double sided tape
  4. 1/8 inch wide elastic – about 20 inch long
  5. A pen to mark
  6. Two brass paper fasteners
  7. A pair of scissors
  8. A single hole punch ( I used 1/8 inch hole punch)
  9. A ruler

Cut the foam, one 2 inch wide and another 1 inch wide, both 12 inches long.

Fold the 2 inch wide foam strip in half lengthwise to make a 1 in wide strip, Use the double sided tape to sandwich the clear plastic sheet between the two sides of the folded strip.

Punch 4 holes on the 1 inch wide strip ; 1/2 inch and 2 1/4 inch from each edge.

Punch 2 holes on the folded strip with the plastic sheet; 1 inch from each edge.

Join the two strips with the two paper fasteners as shown above. Make sure to use the round side inside, so you won’t be scratched when you wear the shield.

Insert the 20 inch long elastic into the holes and tie together.

Use materials like these to decorate the shield.

Monster Shield to protect us against Covid-19

Thank you Art

You may walk your neighborhood more often than you used to lately. I walk my dogs rain or shine throughout the year and it is nice, but sometimes encountering many runners makes me a little anxious. So …. avoiding the crowded(!) residential streets, I change my walking routes and started noticing the hearts decorating peoples’ houses. The movement was started by a Facebook page, Happy Heart Hunt. The page says: The group is created to spread HAPPINESS, LOVE, KINDNESS and POSITIVITY during these unprecedented times. Idea credits to and Heather Henthorn.

Drawing heart shapes with young children is not easy. When in my fully equipped office, I had easy tools to trace and cut heart shapes. Now, doing sessions online, I discovered how easy it is to cut out heart shapes with just a paper, a pencil and a pair of scissors.

You pick a piece of paper, fold and draw a several half heart shapes like in the photo above, then cut the folded paper with a pair of scissors. You can make any size, wider or longer hearts very easily. The above paper was painted with watercolor before cutting. The below is a demonstration piece I created with one of clients. I just traced my hand and glued on the hearts.