It took several hours and several people to brainstorm and decide on “Being In Tune” as my blog name.
I was toying around with more musically-based ideas. Things like “My Musical Moments,” came to mind, but I kept feeling that the names were falling short. I needed something more all-encompassing, as I didn’t want to limit myself to writing about music and music alone.
For me, “Being In Tune” is not simply about music, but rather a lifestyle and mantra by which I try to live. Every day I strive to become more self-aware; more “in tune” with how I’m feeling, and more “in tune” with what I need to do to regulate my emotions, mind, and body.
This was not always the case, though.
For many years, my anxiety felt so unmanageable that I used distraction techniques- mainly watching television- to calm my mind and turn all of my feelings off. I would fall asleep with the TV on every night so as to avoid having to confront my racing thoughts and challenging emotions. As I got a bit older, I began to realize that this tactic was getting me absolutely nowhere. I knew I needed to become more willing to learn about myself, but was unsure of how to get over my fear of confronting all of the anxieties I faced.
Something needed to change.
I consider myself a very patient and understanding person, always willing to offer a listening ear and a shoulder to lean on for whoever is in need of support. For a while, I didn’t feel comfortable with a reciprocal relationship where I relied on others outside of my family for support. I felt that the things I was going through were too silly, too embarrassing, or too much of a burden to put on my friends.
Once I started meeting some of my truest friends, things began to change. I had a growing support network that I could rely on when things got too overwhelming for me to handle on my own. As a result, I started to feel more comfortable “being in tune” with myself.
I am blessed that my support network has continued to grow over the years, which has played a part in my increasing sense of self-awareness and willingness to deal with the things that bother me.
“Getting in tune” (which was a close second for my blog title) with myself has acted as a precursor for my practice of art therapy as it has helped me be in tune with others. Part of my job is to create a safe space for patients to explore their emotions, challenges, and hardships. In doing so, I need to be very aware of a person’s body language, affect, and temperament. Once that safe space is established, I utilize therapeutic techniques to try and better each patient’s attunement with themselves through both verbal and non-verbal means.
I also know that I need to practice what I preach; I have to be in tune with myself before I can expect patients to do the same.
Art is a fantastic way to express yourself without having to come up with the perfect words to explain how you feel. It also can serve as a tool for the art therapist, who needs to be aware of certain symbols or representations that may suggest some of what a patient is going through. As my own self-awareness continues to grow and as I grow nearer and nearer to working as a full-time art therapist, I am recognizing the importance of self-care.
My career field can be mentally and emotionally taxing, and being so confrontational with my own emotions can be tiring. Mastering “being in tune” with myself requires a balance. It takes the ability to understand how I’m feeling, to allow myself to feel that way, and to engage in mindful activities that help me reconnect and stay calm.
My self-care routine involves a variety of “healthy habits” that I have deemed beneficial for my overall health and well-being. I use a color-coded system on my calendar and mark off which habits I’ve done on which day. My goal is to do two per day.
The method behind the madness?
I am a visual person and I needed a simple method of tracking my progress that was a total no-brainer. The “healthy habits” are easy to identify by color, and by the end of the month, I love seeing my calendar full of polka dots! It looks super pretty, but it also tells me that I’ve been practicing a lot of self-care.
Here are some of my methods:
I practice yoga to engage my body and my mind in focused physical activity and stress reduction. The smooth poses can be difficult and make me sweat without jumping around and completely losing my breath.
Meditation helps me to center myself and take a few quiet moments to breathe, collect my thoughts, and guide them in a positive direction.
Time in Nature
When I can (i.e.: when it’s not too cold out,) I love to spend time outside. The fresh air and vitamin D really have an effect on my mood, and for me, it’s an enjoyable way to decompress and disconnect from the world for a while.
I love to cook and experiment with recipes. It’s a form of creativity that is different from fine art, and one that I find a little more free-flowing and experimental than an art project. I feel very little restrictions when cooking and like to play around with flavor combinations.
Coloring and Painting
I like to flex my artsy muscles by coloring or painting, both of which I find to be relaxing, yet challenging. I take my artistic endeavors pretty seriously; they often test my problem-solving skills as I take time to determine what colors belong where. In fact, my art sometimes involves another level of self-awareness and “being in tune” in that I leave it to my intuition to determine what shade of blue to mix, or what colored pencils to use to create interesting patterns in a coloring book.
I am very mindful when creating art, especially when painting. Although I know there is no “right” or “wrong” way to create a piece, I also know what feels right, and what feels like it needs to be altered. For me, painting is a mixture of self-expression and self-awareness.
It has taken me a long time to learn how “being in tune” can have a positive effect on my well-being. It can be really tough to acknowledge everything that’s going on within yourself, especially when you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed! For years I was afraid of it, but now I’m now learning to embrace it and pass the message forward to others. I accept the challenge and realize that in the long run, self-awareness can only be beneficial and help propel us forwards towards being our happiest, healthiest selves.
How do you stay “in tune” with yourself?
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