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Guest Blog


Guest Blog: The Benefits of Art and Music Therapy for Individuals in Recovery

Photo Credit:  Daddy_E_Photography  via Pixabay

Photo Credit: Daddy_E_Photography via Pixabay

For many years now, art and music have played a big part in the recovery of individuals who have battled things like depression, substance abuse, and PTSD. Waking up the creative side of the brain can have so many positive effects on a person’s life that music and art have been incorporated into therapies for these issues and many others. Not only can it help with expressing emotions, it can help a person become more social--effectively battling loneliness--and boost self-confidence, which is essential in overcoming many hurdles.

There are many ways to utilize art and music for the best benefits, so it’s important to find the one that works best for you. Many people who have told themselves for years that they “just aren’t creative” have found that they actually do have a hidden talent, or a passion for a form of creativity that they hadn’t previously explored. Do a little research first and explore the various ways creativity can help you overcome the things that are holding you back during recovery.

Here are a few tips on how to get started.

Learn to play an instrument
Learning to play an instrument can help you express yourself in a positive way while boosting your self-esteem, something that is so important when you are in recovery. Nowadays, it’s so easy to learn something new; there are tutorials and informative articles all over the internet, so do a bit of research to figure out what you might like to play. Woodwinds are very popular because they offer such a huge variety of sound, so you may want to start there. The saxophone and clarinet are wonderful instruments that can be adapted for many different musical styles. If woodwinds aren’t your thing, consider trying the trumpet; check out some reviews of the best trumpets on the market before you pick one up.

Help your body recover
In substance abuse recovery, it’s important to make sure that both your mind and body are taken care of. Art and music can help with both of those, and, in fact, are often employed in therapies for seniors who are in treatment for Alzheimer’s disease for that reason. Activities such as painting or playing an instrument are wonderful for gaining strength and control in the muscles, and they can both help reduce stress and lower blood pressure. Helping your body heal is a major part of recovery, and pursuing creative activities is a great way to start.

Get social
Not everyone is born knowing how to paint a masterpiece, so most of us need to learn at least the basics of art or music before creating our own. Taking a class will help you get social and make new connections, an essential part of recovery. You may feel reluctant to meet new people or talk about your past, but with creative endeavors, you don’t have to. Sharing your passion for painting or playing guitar is a way to bond with others and will help battle loneliness.

Boost your self-esteem
Turning to a creative pursuit during recovery will help boost your self-esteem in ways you might never have thought of. Learning what you’re good at and finding a passion for something new will allow you to form new friendships, take ownership of your actions, express both negative and positive emotions, and give you something to look forward to. In using art or music, you will be raising your self-esteem and self-confidence every day.

Creative activities don’t have to be limited to the visual arts or the musical; you can think outside the box and unite them, or pair music with another expression, such as dancing. Finding ways to express yourself can help you get through even the darkest of days during recovery and will allow you to live the life you want to live.

Big thanks to life and career coach Julie Morris for this great guest blog!



Guest Blog: 8 Ways to Make a Skill Stick

Photo credit:  Pexels

Photo credit: Pexels

Learning a new skill, whether for fun or career advancement, takes some discipline. Thankfully, there are tons of practical skills and talents that you can learn. You might start off with a jet pack of motivation, but it might dwindle as weeks go by and new challenges are encountered. Here’s a few tips and tricks on how to learn a new skill and make it stick.

1. Set SMART goals
You might have heard of a SMART goal: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound. This is a great way to start off new skills: setting smaller goals that are easy to achieve. Learning a new skill isn't easy. It's OK to start with small, achievable goals, and in fact, that's what will help you build the confidence to keep going. As you set smaller goals using the SMART template, remember to make distinctions between tasks and projects.

2. Set yourself up for success
Make your goals super easy to achieve. Let’s say you’re learning the guitar. Sometimes, taking it out of the case can be more effort than it’s worth. To solve this problem, you would buy a guitar stand and have your guitar on display so you remember to practice. Or, if you have a goal to exercise after work more often, store some workout clothes at your job that make it more convenient for you to hit the gym when you’re done in the office.

3. Control distractions
Part of finding the dedication to learn a new skill requires you to identify things that derail your focus and dealing with them. According to Lifehacker, changing your environment can help you reduce distraction and prevent bad practice habits that adversely affect your accomplishment of your goal. This can mean avoiding specific areas, or maybe cleaning your house so you can focus more easily.

4. Vary the way you do a task
Research has shown that subtly changing the way that you practice or perform a new skill, especially motor skills like learning a new instrument, causes your brain to reorganize information and improve your ability to learn something new. If you’re repeating the same musical sequences or language phrases, vary slightly when you practice so your brain starts getting into a new habit.

5. Tell a friend to keep you accountable
A friend can either learn with you or follow up with you. If necessary, make some ludicrous promise to them that you must fulfill if you don’t achieve your goal. This might mean giving your friend $100, or donating to a cause instead.

6. Reward yourself
This one is part of most attempts to learn a new skill, but finding the right kind of incentive is what’s really important. There are some rewards you can receive when you achieve a goal or learn a new skill, and there are others that you can use to reinforce successful actions or behavior. Find out what works for you, and don’t reward yourself until you’ve checked off your task.

7. Take a break after a focused session
According to the New York Times, taking a short break after you perform a focused session of work helps switch your brain into a mode where the information can be processed and new neural connections can be made.

8. Find a mentor
For many of the skills or talents that you want to learn, it’s likely that you can find someone who has already accomplished what you want to do. Talk with someone about the steps they took to accomplish the same goal. This gives you a good blueprint for how you will succeed.

Accomplishing really small goals in the beginning can help you get a good idea for how you can succeed in learning a new skill. Focus on just learning a little bit each day instead of trying to learn everything. You’ll find confidence as you continue to accomplish more goals.

Big thanks to life and career coach Julie Morris for this great guest blog!