Never mind a trip to the spa or two-week vacation to the Bahamas the next time the stress of everyday life gets to be too much.
Clinical counsellor Shannon Byrnes said a paintbrush and no more than 45 minutes of quiet time is just as effective.
“A lot of people haven’t touched art supplies since they were kids. Opening up that box of crayons or pastels or paints again is really fun,” said Byrnes, who works at Sabino Medspa in the Tudor Village.
Using art material and psychotherapy techniques, Byrnes helps her clients achieve therapeutic goals through the creative process. She said her clients can achieve a greater insight, cope with stress, work through traumatic experiences and increase his or her cognitive and memory skills.
The method has helped cancer patients and those who suffer from chronic pain find relief, said Byrne. But it’s also a way for average people to cope with everyday stress.
Byrne has organized a five-week mindfulness art-therapy group at Sabino Medspa. The first 90-minute class was held Wednesday night.
“My hope for the class is people develop skills for their own empowerment and health and they can take them away and implement them in their everyday experience,” she said.
Classes begin with a cup of tea and a group conversation about the week before Byrne leads everyone in a meditative exercise.
Then she breaks out the art supplies, with the class trying something different every week. For example, clients dip string in India ink and move it across sheets of paper. If people identify a shape, she encourages them to bring it out through watercolour paint.
“The point isn’t to make a pretty picture. It’s to explore with art materials and have fun,” she said. “It’s about bringing people into their senses and experience in the moment.”
She ends each class with journal writing, which can be an effective way for people to express themselves privately, said Byrne.
Owner Shirley Gasparin said people think it takes a long vacation to relax, but taking a moment to focus on one thing outside of the day-to-day routine is just as effective.
“It allows the body to be calm. It brings you back to awareness. It brings you back to one’s self. It brings you back to some control,” she said.
Byrne has 12 people registered in the program. She intends to start another one in March. For more information contact 250-377-3901 or visit sabinomedspa.com