If you frequently practice art, or even just pick up a pen and paper every once in a while… We’re taking an unofficial poll here, and want your input:
Have you ever felt an overwhelming sense of calm flow through your mind and body after just 10 minutes of quiet, creative, self-reflection time with your art?
If you said YES, we’ve also experienced that ourselves in the Simple Daily Drawing office, and have also heard it firsthand from many of our Simple Daily Drawers.
Drawing daily with us can positively impact your mental health. It allows you to take that time for yourself to slow down and ground yourself in art-making. If you’ve felt that sense of calm before, it can be a really transformative experience – connecting deeper with yourself.
From where we stand, drawing really soothes the soul.
This particular blog was inspired by one of our fellow Simple Daily Drawers, Aiysha, who has experienced that calming wave herself when she draws AND has seen the same happen for others to a whole other level.
She commented on one of our Facebook posts – expressing excitement over our October 2022 collaboration with Hands Across Long Island, where we spent 5 days drawing happy prompts for patients of art therapy to use.
She said, “I am a psych nurse so I am gonna eat this up!!! The psych clients love, love, love things like this (similar to coloring pages. Things they can write on or add to) They are super soothing.”
We reached out to Aiysha to hear more about her experience as a psych nurse, and how drawing and art-making has helped the psych patients she works with in her unit.
She had some really inspiring stories and insight to share on how practicing art can soothe your soul and raise your confidence…
Aiysha is an LPN on a behavioral health science unit in New York, and has been for 23 years. She became a nurse because she wanted a fulfilling and interesting career that would keep her on her toes, while still helping others.
Psych was the perfect direction for her. When she was little, she would always wonder things like, “why does that man over there talk to the tree?”
It made young Aiysha question if there actually was someone in that tree talking to them. She wanted to understand what was happening in someone’s head. What exactly is going on when someone living with a mental illness is having that type of experience?
She was very interested and motivated to understand the mind. Now 23 years later, she’s working the night shifts at her unit. And contrary to most people’s first assumption about working night shifts, it is NOT quiet.
After Aiysha has provided all proper medicines for the night, different patients will approach her asking for paper or coloring sheets. Because she’s known around the unit as an artist, they know they can come to her for those things.
Sometimes patients ask her to draw something for them, or they just want to draw with her, or they’ll ask if she can teach them a step-by-step “how to draw” tutorial for something they want to learn to draw.
The important thing, Aiysha says, is to really make it clear to others that the outcome isn’t going to be perfect every time, and that’s ok. It’s something Aiysha herself used to struggle with…
Aiysha says she always liked to draw when she was younger, and had drawing contests with her sisters. They’d pick a subject, see who would draw it or color it the best, and pick a winner.
At first, drawing made Aiysha beat herself up a bit when the outcome wasn’t coming out the way she imagined it in her head.
Now, she recognizes that calming feeling that drawing provides – that helps her slow her mind down. When she is having a bad day and settles down to draw, she forgets about the bad day. It soothes her mind. Sometimes she would rather draw than sleep when she’s tired or on edge.
Art itself is soothing.
And she says the patients experience the same result – they run to art when they’re in a state of stress. When a patient is experiencing a struggle, the nurses will try offering art to them and the patient accepts it.
In fact, Aiysha said she’s never seen a patient turn art down, because it really seems to take their mind off what’s going on. And it can be as simple as scribbling some crayons on a piece of paper with no goal or specific vision.
Aiysha told us about a story of one woman in particular who had quite the transformation because of art. She came through the unit convinced she was evil. She thought the devil was inside her, and as a result of that experience she was having of the world, she hated herself.
For the first few days she was at the unit with Aiysha, no one had any idea that she was a very talented artist. No one knew she could draw. But then as the days started passing, she began drawing detailed, exquisite bird drawings on the chalkboard. She drew the birds based off of a bird book she had.
It was GOOD artwork done in chalk – detailed and colorful. And as many of us can attest to, chalk is very hard to define and make colorful.
Aiysha said, “This woman thought she was so bad and so evil, but here she was creating beautiful artwork that made other people happy. People started walking through and complimenting her work. The more comments she got, the more her self esteem started to grow. Drawing helped her to see that she can do beautiful things and isn’t an evil person. Because of her artwork, and the way it impacted those around her, those compliments she received… She was different when she left. She had grown her self esteem and confidence.”
Some of the best art Aiysha has ever seen comes from her psychiatric patients. And she gushes on how AMAZING this art truly is. But she also stresses that there really is no such thing as “bad” art.
Instead, Aiysha has observed that whether the patient is a “good artist” or not, there’s an undeniably strong bond and connection that happens when a patient shares their artwork with the nurses.
And that connection after a patient shows their artwork is sometimes that ONE positive interaction or compliment that changes their mood for the whole day, no matter what struggle they currently have going on.
“It’s a truly positive thing that can shine through whatever struggle or abuse they are working through.”
As Aiysha says, “Art is something anyone can do – something everyone has in common.”
She says the hospital ends up spending a LOT of money on art supplies. We asked her how our Simple Daily Drawing community might be able to help.
She said, “Call your local hospital units. Ask them what art supplies they might need and donate when possible. It makes a huge difference.”
We want to give a special thank you to Aiysha for speaking with us about her experience. She’s been with Simple Daily Drawing for a couple years, and says it’s her “absolutely favorite group on Facebook. Hands down.”
Thank you Aiysha! 💜