Enhancing work/life balance

WHAT'S ON BilberryBloom

Welcome to the Bilberry Bloom® blog

 

At the heart of Bilberry Bloom’s activities is the conviction that there is no better asset for your organisation than a motivated workforce.

 

Our carefully crafted activities can be modified to both underpin and form part of your business’s health, well-being and engagement strategy whilst encouraging a more entrepreneurial and creative company culture.

By Bilberry Bloom, Jan 25 2016 07:26PM


Connect.


In our increasingly micro-managed and stressful world, arts-based activities offer a place of refuge, a chance to switch-off and take a break from our daily routines, but generally people participate in creative activities because they gain immense enjoyment by doing them.


Most people can relate to some form of art whether it is music, dance, theatre or visual, such as graphics, painting and photography. Covering a huge range of structures, materials, styles, skills and knowledge – the arts can reach out to a broad spectrum of society, regardless of age, gender or diversity. In many cases it can provide a platform for debate and open dialogue whilst truly encouraging engagement.


The arts, it could be argued, in one form or another, are deeply rooted in our personal lives; they may be said to define our culture, greatly influence our formative years, provide us with a platform to create our own personal sense of identity and ultimately give us common ground on which to connect with others.


However, on a deeper level, when you have found an art form that you can personally relate to, or even participate in, it can become totally immersive; deeply involving our senses and creating an altered mental state. In short art in its many forms can touch our emotions, change our mood, and provide a sense of perspective and meaning whilst connecting with ourselves and other like-minded people.


Keep Learning.


Participating in an arts activity is a fun way to build confidence and develop new personal skills that can be used in everyday situations; for instance, creating a visual piece of art can help you to refocus, evaluate process and see things from different perspectives, whilst learning a new dance step can help self-motivation and provide a sense of awareness about our body language, learning to play a musical instrument can help to fine tune our listening skills and voice coaching techniques can help you to use your voice effectively to get your message across.


Take Notice (Awareness).


In producing a piece of visual art as an artist, as the choreographer of a dance or crafting a performance as an actor, apart from the physical and practical side, developed observational and listening skills allow the artiste to capture characteristics and identity to play the role of another person. Additionally, by developing communication skills, both verbal and non-verbal such as gesture and posture artistes have the ability to emphasize with an audience. By being aware, artistes learn to ‘read’ an audience’s mood and emotional state so that they can intuitively tap into it and respond accordingly.


From a non-verbal perspective actors and dancers are trained to be aware of their own body language as this can be a powerful way to articulate emotions and mood but also in some cases change perception, convey empathy and knowledge.


Be Active


Getting involved in the more physical art forms, such as dance, can be a rewarding and fun way both to exercise and release tension. The level of physical involvement can vary enormously depending on the dance style. The good thing about dancing is that because you are enjoying yourself you tend to forget about the fact that you are actually exercising. Many forms of exercise can be quite solitary whereas dancing tends to be very social and therefore a great way to meet people.


Give


Creating handmade items can be a very rewarding way to give, whether it is a personalised gift to someone special or creating items to sell in order to raise money for a good cause. From the recipient’s point of view, there is nothing more valued than a gift that has been personally and lovingly produced - just for them - in the knowledge that time and effort has been spent producing something with them specifically in mind. On another level, giving your time is the most valuable gift that you can give, especially to a child or elderly person living alone, so you could use your newly learned skills to teach others.


The beauty of arts-based activities is that you don’t need to have prior experience to enjoy having a go; you never know you may discover what can become a lifelong passion. In addition, unlike many other sectors, the arts offer a wide and variable choice – there’s pretty much something for everyone. On a business level there are also some insightful skills that can be learned and used in everyday situations including the workplace.


“When formulating health and wellbeing programmes, businesses must consider that one size doesn’t fit all; we are all unique and how we individually fit and work in different environments is key to understanding how we thrive and therefore contribute at our best.”



Jacqui Simpson, creative director at Bilberry Bloom® 2016

Passionate about the role the arts can play in our wellbeing.



www.bilberrybloom.net



Bilberry Bloom® provides art-based solutions that form part of businesses health and wellbeing programme.


By Bilberry Bloom, Dec 15 2015 07:00AM


In a quest for a solution to reduce workplace stress and absenteeism, are companies in danger of looking to mindfulness as ‘a one size fits all’ solution?


Recently there has been an explosion in popularity and awareness of mindfulness meditation and its use in the work place.


However, on the flip side there are also suggestions that mindfulness is not for everyone; a recent article, by Anna Hart, The Telegraph¹, writes about a possible mindfulness backlash and makes the point that perhaps mindfulness isn’t for everyone and adopting mindfulness meditation isn’t as straight forward and a ‘cure all’ that corporates would like it to be. Additionally, Lisa Nirell; The Future of Work², suggests that perhaps mindfulness is dangerously close to joining the ranks of “corporate buzzword bingo”. Whatever, your take on this it is hard to ignore the growing base of scientific evidence, some 500 papers published each year, but as companies formulate their health and wellbeing programmes shouldn’t they be offering choice and fulfilling their commitment to ‘inclusion and diversity.’


Arts based activities a viable alternative to mindfulness.


The beauty of arts based activities is that you don’t have to be ‘arty or theatrical’ to enjoy doing something creative and, if you are enjoying what you are doing, you will naturally experience ‘flow’. In other words you don’t have to master it to achieve it, unlike many forms of meditation.


What is ‘flow’?


Flow is a point in time when our attention is focused solely on a present or existing activity; we are totally absorbed to a state of complete immersion – being in the moment. This is something that most of us experience when we are actively involved in something we enjoy, for example sport, cooking, painting, writing and dancing or simply colouring-in pictures from a colouring book.


In a 2007 paper, The Neurological Basis of Occupation, Schindler VP and co-author Gutman SA³ argue that people could learn to use activities such as drawing or painting to elicit flow, which would offer a non-pharmaceutical way to regulate strong emotions such as anger or prevent irrational thoughts. Specifically, it was found that music, drawing, meditation, reading, arts and crafts, and home repairs, for example, can stimulate the neurological system and enhance health and wellbeing.


Being in the ‘moment’ and finding a point of focus for the mind, one could argue, that although elements of practicing mindfulness meditation they are also a state of mind naturally experienced when being creative or making a piece of art; reaching a point of total immersion and experiencing ‘flow’ - sometimes called zone.


Offering choice


The value of arts activities in health and wellbeing is widely documented and long been used in many health conditions, social settings, hospitals, schools and community environments all over the world; in some states in America arts activities, such as music and painting are prescribed as part of palliative care; to assist pain relief, for patients nearing the end of life.


Anne Bolwerk and colleagues in a 2014 study⁴ found that people participating in the production of visual art showed greater propensity to cope with mental stress. This recent study is amongst the very first to demonstrate the neural effects of visual art production on psychological resilience in adulthood.


Considering workplace absenteeism caused through stress related illness is still high; according to a YouGov survey commissioned by The Mental Health Foundation, 46% of workers struggle to switch off from work and 29% of people either always or often feel stressed, it would seem prudent for companies to accommodate a ‘mix’ of initiatives

in their health and wellbeing strategy. Although this could possibly make scoping a programme for health and wellbeing all the more challenging it could ultimately prove more effective long term by offering more choice in preventative solutions.


Jacqui Simpson 2015

Bilberry Bloom



References:

[1] http://www.fastcompany.com/3053718/the-future-of-work/the-trouble-with-mindfulness-training

[2] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/11942320/Mindfulness-backlash-Meditation-bad-for-your-health.html

[3] Bolwerk A, Mack-Andrick J, Lang F, Dorfler A, Maihofner C. How Art Changes Your Brain: Differential Effects of Visual Art Production and Cognitive Art Evaluation on Functional Brain Connectivity. PLoS One 2104. 9:7. Accessed 18.09.2014.

[4] Gutman SA, Schindler VP. The neurological basis of occupation. Occup Ther Int.2007;14(2):71-85.





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