Work in progress presentation was held on Thursday 18th February.
I presented my work through a video advert and graphical poster, to summarise the general idea of my project; creating alternative methods to cope with mental health that isn’t through therapy or with medication. These methods are researched through workshops, that are open for all, titled ‘Realigning Thoughts.’
After receiving feedback, I learnt that the next stages of my project are:
> Change the definition of the project idea. > What is my role as as designer within these workshops / process? > What part am I interested in designing (within the workshops)? > Refining the notion the rearranging words. > What is the genre?
Therefore, going forwards I will concentrating on developing the activities within the workshops, along with the workshop plan. I will still be holding workshops but less often. I want to look at the workshops from the other-side by getting someone else to run them, enabling me to make additional and effective changes.
I will also be redefining my project idea / explanation, alongside situating the workshops in a particular genre. This will help me to further understand and expand my project and it’s aims.
Realigning Thoughts and Safe Space. Friday 12th February 2021 at 11 am and 2 pm (GMT)
This week was on creating a safe space. A place to take yourself to when difficult times arise. The workshop began with a meditation again, this weeks affirmation being, “I am safe, within this space.” The meditation was based around creating a safe space within the mind, concentrating on the sounds, textures, colours and what can be seen.
The workshop included the same exercise of rearranging the negative thought/sentence into a more positive one. The addition to this exercise this week, was to think about the space between the negative and positive thoughts/sentences. A place where you find yourself when you’re not necessarily feeling completely negative, but where you struggle to completely pick yourself up and be positive. This space between is somewhere where you can say, “I am okay.”
The exercise was to describe this in-between place. Answering questions such as, what do you feel in the space between the negative and positive thoughts? Do you feel safe or uneasy? Do you come here a lot?
“In between I feel…”
The point of this activity is to not only accept that some days you cannot completely turn the negative thoughts around, but also to realise when you are here, it is a good opportunity to take yourself to your safe space. Which leads onto the next activity, to describe your safe space, either by writing it or drawing it, or both. I asked the participants to concentrate on what they could hear, touch, and see, and what colour stand out? I also asked them to think of one phase or word they could repeat to themselves within this safe space to help take themselves there, such as this weeks affirmation, “I am safe, within this space.”
The last activity of the workshop was to explain how you get to your safe space. The first part was for the participants to share some ideas, which included, meditation, colour visualisation, music and yoga. The second part was to spend a few minutes explaining to how you get to your safe space, starting with the prompt:
“Dear me, I found this place…”
The reasons for creating a safe space in detail is because It’s enables the individual to find this place more accessible within their mind. Realising that you can use your imagination to reach a place of comfort doing negative times, is extremely powerful. Taking yourself there is a form of meditation, which has been proven to drastically improve mental well-being. Lastly, telling yourself exactly how you get to the safe space, will help the individual to remember this during hard times.
Realigning Thoughts. Gabrielle Spooner // Monday 15th February 2021
Realigning Thoughts and Colour. Friday 5th February 2021 at 11 am and 2 pm (GMT).
I began the workshops with a short guided meditation as spending a few minutes quietening thoughts is highly beneficial. This weeks meditation was to ensure a clear mind and let go of any negative thoughts or stress. The affirmation that accompanied the meditation was, “I forgive myself and set myself free,” forming a feeling of release of emotions, situating the participants fully into this moment and workshop.
My work began with physically rearranging negative sentences to realign negative thoughts and emotions. As this is the main basis of my work, I decided to have this small activity in every workshop. A small explanation of this method is displayed below:
Write out negative thoughts / emotion – can be a thought that has been bothering you, or simply that you’re having a bad hair day. Cut up the sentence – cut up each word individually. Rearrange – with all the individual words, rearrange the previously negative sentence into a more positive version.
During this workshop I included associating colours with the negative and positive sentences. The colour chosen is to express the overall emotion and feeling of the sentences. Adding colour to the sentences allows for the words to be simplified and therefore seem less overwhelming. Workshop participants found that using colour was beneficial, as it allowed for a further expression of their emotions.
The next stage was personifying the colours/ emotions, answering questions such as, What do they look like? What do they feel? What do they say? It was up the individual how they personify their colours/ emotions, they could use words, drawings or both! The participants found this exercise fun and effective as it draws the emotions away from yourself, allowing them to see the negative thoughts from an outside perspective.
The final stage was the write a letter from the positive emotion/ colour point of view, in response to the original negative sentence. This exercise allowed individuals to disassociate from the negative thought, as they were no longer the person giving themselves advice. Writing the letter became cathartic as they were made to address the first negative sentence, resulting in thinking about it more positively.
Realigning Thoughts. Gabrielle Spooner // Monday 8th February 2021
The workshop series will be held every Friday throughout February at 11 am and 2 pm (GMT). Each week will aim to realign our negative thoughts into positive ones, using a range of activities including, use of colour, writing, poetry, personification, affirmations, and the list continues. Ultimately, during these 4 weeks together we shall discover, can rearranging our words realign our thoughts?
Week 1: Realigning Thoughts & Colour
Week 2: Realigning Thoughts & Safe Space
Week 3: Realigning Thoughts & Today
Week 4: Realigning Thoughts & Poetry/ Prose
After week 4’s workshop, I will be hosting a poetry/prose open mic for the work we have created. There is no obligation to share your work, but you are more than welcome to come along. This (virtual) space we create together will be a safe space, a place to be honest and feel comfortable to share our emotions.
The main outcome of this workshop series is to discover if these methods of realigning thoughts are successful in helping in the long term. I hope being honest and open about my own mental health struggles will result in spreading awareness and hopefully allow others to feel comfortable to open up (if desired).
Items needed: coloured pencils or pens, paper, glue or tape, scissors.
If you do not have all of these items or cannot attend all workshops, please drop me an email or contact me via my Instagram: @heylets_talk_about_it
So join me, every Friday throughout February at 11 am or 2 pm and see if rearranging our words can realign our thoughts.
From both personal research and a selection of workshops I have so far gathered that rearranging your words can begin to realign your thoughts. That said, it may be an activity that helps in the present moment and so further work needs to be done to discover if long term effects can happen.
The work included has been: > Turning negative thoughts into positive ones through cutting up the sentence and rearranging it. > Associating colour with the negative and positive sentences, in order to dissect the words. > Creating a poem from the newly rearranged positive sentence.
The workshops held have been cathartic and a nice support network to all involved. The activities done within the workshop have been effective, as I have gathered from feedback. Alongside that, the dynamic of sharing your thoughts and discussing this within a group has formed a haven. It was warming to talk with others about their emotions, even if their thoughts were slightly different. I believe these workshops can develop with both the activities within and warming benefits of sharing with like-minded individuals. The workshops have answered the question,“Can rearranging your words realign your thoughts?”And formed an awareness for mental health.
Feedback received from the most recent workshops:
“You’ve inspired me to write a journal.”
“That made me really emotional, I felt a release of emotion.”
“Today’s workshop meant a lot.”
“Thank you for this support network.”
“It was nice to share and speak about thoughts.”
Moving forwards, I am going to further develop my Realigning Thoughts Workshops and expand the idea of associating colour with emotions.
My second (virtual) workshop was an extension of the previous one, answering the question again can we realign our thoughts by rearranging our words. I held two workshops on Wednesday 30th December at 2pm and 6pm. I believed holding these workshops before the end of 2020 was a positive and calming way to end the year.
I instructed the attendees to write a negative thought down on a piece of paper, noting that it should be at least two sentences long with 15-20 words to make the activity accessible. The next part was to associate the negative sentence with a colour, along with picking one word to describe the thought and one emotion to identify with it. The act of colouring the sentence allows for it to be simplified and thus less threatening to the individual.
The next part was to pick a colour that felt the opposite of the negative one, along with a describing word and emotion also. This perhaps being a representation of a place you want to get to. For example you may pick blue to express feeling ‘lonely’ or ‘low’ and therefore the opposite could be yellow indicating ‘company’ and ‘joy.’ Once this had been picked I asked the workshop groups to cut up the negative sentence, with each word being separate. Following the same activity from the previous workshop, the idea was to rearrange the words to form a more positive sentence.
Below is an example of mine, including both the colour association and word rearranging:
The two activities were effective, I learnt from my feedback, although the cutting up of the sentence and reassembling them was the most therapeutic.
The second stage of the workshop was to take the theme of the now positive thought and create a poem from it. The poem did not need to be anything spectacular, but ultimately just needed to be linked to the realigned sentence. From feedback, I learnt that this was also an effective approach to dealing with difficult thoughts. It was mentioned that to have a topic / idea for the poem from the previous activity was useful, and made writing the poem easier. It was nice to hear everyones realigned thoughts poetry, and see the journey of a once negative thought turned into a now mentally positive poem.
Below is an example of my journey of my negative thought into a poem:
The next stage of this will be to create a publication using the collection of poems from these workshops, to form a further awareness for mental health.
Friday 11th December at 2pm. The workshop consisted of one small activity that lasted 15 – 20 minutes. The activity was to answer the question, can we realign our thoughts by rearranging our words?
During the (virtual) workshop, I directed everyone to write a negative thought, either one that has been bothering them lately or a general one. Then I instructed everyone to cut up each word individually and rearrange them into a more positive sentence. I also partook in the activity along withe everyone else and below is my example of thoughts realigned.
I found the workshop gave me a fun and effective opportunity to engage with people and their thoughts. It was really interesting and lovely to hear people change their thoughts from negative to positive. After the activity I asked people to answer two questions for me:
1. Any improvements on the workshop?
“It would be good to try and rearrange them again, to try and make multiple positive outcomes from one negative.”
“A few more exercises in the session that all work the same way in rewiring the way we think about ourselves.”
“Have more of a discussion element, like a conversational topic.”
2. Was the workshop effective for you?
“Yeah I do think it was effective, definitely good to spin negative thoughts like that!”
“It dismantled negative thoughts and it’s something you can always come back to mentally to help you cope with any compulsive thoughts about yourself or a situation you are in.”
“It made me feel included, like I’m not alone.”
“Honestly meant a lot to me.”
“I’m definitely going to use that technique all the time! It made me feel so so positive after!”
The outcome and feedback after the workshop was great to hear and I am so pleased that such a small task can be so effective in helping others, and myself, change the way we think about ourselves and/or a situation.
In regards to future workshops I will be taking on board the feedback and kind comments that I received after this one. I am hoping to gather a few more exercises, around 3 to 4, and hold another workshop in the near future all around the theme of realigning thoughts. I believe that with time I can create a series of workshops that can be useful and beneficial to helping those not only with mental health issues, but also those without. We all have negative thoughts, we all have a lack of confidence sometimes and so it is important to create a safe place where we are comfortable to talk about them, and be able to change them into positive thoughts in only a few minutes.
I will be holding another workshop that follows the same structure as this one on Monday 14th December at 6pm (GMT) and will hope to gather more feedback to enable me to develop the Realigning Thoughts Workshops further.
Perhaps a way to know yourself is to collect your thoughts and write them down. No preparing, just writing as you think. Allow all feelings to appear on the page. No pressure of how it sounds or looks, write until you feel you want to.
Look back at these writings. Can they be reiterated to sound more positive, or perhaps make more sense? Can we realign our thinking by rearranging our words?
I began an activity this week of writing down how I felt and then cutting up all the words separately to rearrange the sentences. The negative and anxious views began to be aligned differently, thus forming a more positive outlook. I have been and will continue to do this every day to research the question if we can reorganise our words, can we restructure our thoughts?
Overthinking can be a huge cause for a crash in mood and negative thought patterns about yourself and life. It can be incredibly challenging to discuss what is going on inside your head, especially when you struggle to understand the thoughts yourself. That said, when you do finally let someone in on the way your mind thinks it can be helpful and, in my opinion, allow weight to be lifted off my shoulders. As the old saying goes, “a problem shared is a problem halved.”
I will be writing and readjusting my words in the hope it will form a benefit. Perhaps these sentences, that do not always make sense due to the limited amount of words, will create new meanings. It could be that I turn these jumble of words into poems or stories. Why does everything have to make sense? Because in reality, the thoughts that are processed through overthinking rarely make sense at all. The result I wish for is not highly well-structured sentences, but words that make you feel a sense of joy. I want the act of realigning my thoughts to cause a halt on the overthinking and make me become aware that I have the power. After all, I am the one who thinks them.
Below is an example of my sentence rearranging from Day 1 – 23rd November 2020:
We’ve all been there, woken up and just thought, “I can’t wait for this day to end.” The days where the only thing appealing seems to be lying in bed or on the sofa all day long. There are many self-help books out there with tricks and tips of how to avoid these days and pick yourself up. They usually include constant actions that you need to do day in day out, with the promise that you will feel better.
In my opinion writing 3 things I’m grateful for at the end of the day to ‘make myself feel better’ is just something I really (really) don’t want to do on a day where I can hardly be bothered to get out of bed. Although I know activities like this can help, and probably will, I seem to always avoid them on down days. This left me thinking, what are ways we can help ourselves to make days like these just a little bit easier?
I find that first giving yourself a break and being kind to yourself is the first step to take. Allow yourself to lie in bed for longer than neccessary or sit on the sofa in your pjs all day. Remind yourself that it’s okay to be sad sometimes. Just be wary not to do this day in, day out because otherwise some unhealthy habits (and thoughts) can form. Just tell yourself, “today I’m going to give myself a break and do what feels accessible for myself right now, but then tomorrow I will pick myself back up again.” This way you have allowed yourself and mind to relax and know that today is a mental health day, and that’s okay!
I’ve made a list of 5 little things that I do for myself, that I thought I will share with you.
1. Holding my own hand, this may sounds strange but it provides the comfort that you have yourself to get you through this, because let’s face it, you’re going to be with yourself forever so you may as well support yourself through life.
2. Yin Yoga, although this can sometimes be too much effort for down days, whilst practicing Yin Yoga it requires holding stretches for 1-2 minutes which can be extremely calming as your mind often goes to the feelings the stretches influence on the body.
3. Embroidery, of anything, this again may be too much for days like these but if you’re feeling a little more energetic or creative, this is a great way to distract your mind from your crazy thoughts!
4. Worry period, this is a very helpful technique that my sister told me about, you set a time in the day where you’re allowed to worry, for example between the hours of 5pm and 6pm. This enables you to put those worries to the side until it’s time to ‘worry,’ but usually by the time 5pm comes you either miss the ‘worry period’ or you don’t feel like thinking about that worry anymore.
5. See a friend, try to see or talk to a friend, it is obvioysly more challenging right now with the whole COVID-19 thing but even a call or FaceTime can help take your mind off things.
Feel free to try any of the above, or not! Just remember, be kind to yourself.
Art Therapy was founded by Adrian Hill in 1942 whilst he was recovering from tuberculosis. He discovered the benefits of drawing and painting, which helped in his recovery. He introduced Art Therapy into hospitals and sanatoria’s, which allowed patients to relieve their mental distress due to concentrating on and expressing their feelings and pain through art.
Why Art Therapy? It can create healing and mental well-being. Art can be used to explore and understand emotions. It can help aid in overcoming difficult feelings and expressing oneself when it is too challenging to put it into words. Art Therapy can allow the individual to gain personal insight and therefore develop new coping methods for themselves.
Any medium can be used in Art Therapy including drawing, painting, collaging, sculpting, etc. It can be whatever the individual desires to use to convey their emotions and thoughts.
I decided to use two methods I had researched to express myself. 1. Anxiety Expressing Itself Here you close your eyes and tap into your feelings of anxiety in order to understand how it feels. Next you choose a pen, pencil, paint brush, etc. and begin drawing continuously with your eyes closed until you feel the expression is complete. Then you use other mediums to expand the image and create a picture from it, with your eyes open. After this you take five minutes to reflect on the activity.
My five minute reflection: “The drawing became a monster’s face, the pain/anger/aggression of anxiety, which feels like it is staring at me. The red defusing into the yellow shows the level of anxiety reducing. The red is small in the corner as my anxiety does not feel strong right now. The yellow shows the calm I feel once the anxiety has settled.”
2. A Collage of Calm and Safety This was the act of creating your visual ‘safe space’ using collage.
My Safe Space: The collage shows my safe space which is at the top of a high hill that overlooks a calm world. The blue sky creates a sense of warmth and the flowers and plants bring me a sense of joy. I placed a butterfly in the top right hand corner to represent new life and a sense of freedom from the busy, anxious mind.