Express yourself through creative therapy
When was the last time you picked up a paintbrush, a pair of knitting needles or an instrument? Chances are not since school, which is no surprise considering a recent Rest Assured study found that us Brits have just 40 minutes of downtime per day to relax.
If even 40 minutes of relaxation sounds like a luxury you can’t afford (perhaps you feel immense guilt when you’re not hustlin’), hypnotherapist and relaxation teacher Dipti Tait emphasises the importance of relaxation. “It’s important to learn and practice the skill of relaxation to get useful neurochemistry, like serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin fuelling us, which make our lives much more happy, clearer and peaceful.”
But how can we practice the skill of relaxation effectively? Well, for starters, to reap the neurological benefits of creative therapy, we must switch off (digitally speaking) and turn on the faucet of our creative juices.
Inspired? Express yourself this month by trying out one of these creative classes in the capital.
Dipti Tait suggests “real relaxation is when the brain gets a chance to switch off from conscious thought and we engage in activities that help us to use our imagination”. So, what other activity engages both sides of the brain better than pottery? The right hemisphere conceptualises the design, while the left brings it to life, and the beauty of pinch pottery in particular is that rough edges and fingerprints are a given – not something to stress about. Over the course of three sessions at M.Y.O mould, pinch, fire, paint and glaze your earthenware clay into a beautiful piece of pinch pottery to take home for yourself, or as a Christmas gift.
PERFECT FOR… Those who don’t mind getting their hands dirty
COSTS: £80 for 3 sessions
TIME: 150 mins each session
Ikebana is the ancient Japanese art of flower arranging, and the principle is simple: by creating a bouquet (often in silence), it becomes a meditative practice in which the arrangement itself reflects the arranger. Through regular practice, it can help uncover innate creativity and in turn, you may find yourself basking in a sense of achievement, which is the ultimate mood booster.
PERFECT FOR… Anyone who needs time away from the hustle and bustle of the city to reconnect with themselves
COSTS: Price on application
TIME: 180 minutes
Pinterest and Instagram are awash with beautiful brush lettering, but the practice itself is far more meditative than first meets the eye. For starters, it requires you to be wholly present in the moment and to let go of all the tension in your body to achieve the perfect flick of the wrist – something that isn’t possible while you’re scrolling on your iPhone, or fretting about tomorrow.
PERFECT FOR… Those with a delicate touch and in need of an analogue outlet. Just try not to turn the practice into an Etsy side hustle and enjoy it for what it is!
COST: £60 per session
TIME: 120 minutes
This therapy will help ground you in the present, with a guided meditation enjoyed over a mug of dairy-free hot chocolate. “Focusing on just one thing”, begins therapist and coach Joanne Sumner, “helps you to release tensions – physically and mentally. It restores a sense of perspective, and when it’s something you love, also a sense of wellbeing.” At Balance HQ, we can confirm chocolate certainly falls into that category!
PERFECT FOR… Anyone who needs to slow down and switch off – and who also has a sweet tooth
COSTS: £20 per session
TIME: 90 minutes
In a world where we often wish to skip process in order to enjoy the end product sooner, the practice of Origami forces you to slow down and enjoy the steps that get you there. Dipti Tait explains “true relaxation occurs only when our brains feel still afterwards”, and with nothing but a piece of paper required for this activity, it will certainly help empty your mind of any worries, while also improving hand-eye coordination and memory skills.
PERFECT FOR… Anyone looking to learn a skill that they can practice on the go
COSTS: £45 per session
TIME: 120 minutes
Described as “therapy with just more yarn”, weaving is as much about self-expression (you choose the colours and textures to weave with) as it is calming. The repetitive and methodical nature of using a pedal weave loom helps you find what Cognitive Behavioural Therapist (CBT), Elisabeth Thompson has coined ‘flow’ – that being the balance of doing what is both a challenge, enjoyable and holds our attention. “When we are in flow, thoughts come and go but because we are really focusing on the task at hand, we accept them but don’t engage with them.”
PERFECT FOR… Anyone looking for a calming state of flow
COST: £50 per session
TIME: 120 minutes