boy playing the electric guitar

How do we use Arts for Mental Health?

Posted: 10th February 2023

We asked Greenfield staff: do you have any creative endeavours that help you look after your mental health? Here’s what they had to say:

Music has a real power to change the way you feel. I started making silly songs when I was about 16 to make my friends laugh – and by doing this, I realised that writing music also improved my mood too! When I am in “song writing mode”, I can be focused on the music for hours at a time with my thoughts completely engrossed in the creative process. If I am worried or anxious about anything, then writing music takes my mind of this. Creating my own music also gives a huge boost to my self-esteem. If the music is sounding good, then I feel good! Listening back to my completed song helps me to feel proud of something I have achieved. Most importantly, I make music for others to enjoy. If my music improves someone’s mood, then that is very rewarding for me.

Submitted by Mr Upcott (Year 3 Teacher)

When things got bad with the lockdown in Hong Kong and I was feeling low, I decided to teach myself how to sketch. I also made a lot of Mandela doodles! I enjoy the learning process and focusing on the progress I’ve made – the aim is to try and sketch to look as realistic as possible.

Submitted by Mrs Thakrar (Year 2 Teacher)

Although I teach Science and IT, I enjoy exploring my creative side as it gives me something to focus on – I’ve been drawing from as young as I remember; from studying art at school and university, to taking up painting quite recently. Every so often I will try out a different instrument – I played guitar at university, I have produced electronic dance music on my computer, and most recently I’ve taken up drumming – none of these have been with the intention of performing, it’s a practice that I do purely for myself!

Submitted by Mr Lovejoy (Head of Computing and Science)

Often during the holidays, I’ll make earring with my daughters using various materials. It’s very relaxing and therapeutic; and we enjoy having the freedom to be as creative and original as we liked.

Submitted by Mrs Butcher (Head of RE and DT)

Throughout my life I have always practised music and I find it gives me strengths in lots of other aspects of my life. Preparing for performances and carrying them out successfully makes me more confident for the next one (for example, when I played my oboe for the children this week!) Being able to conquer nerves and anxiety in this way has been a great help on other aspects of my life; giving me the ability to overcome any similar feelings that may arise in work or home life.

Submitted by Ms Gardiner-Boiling (Bursar)

I’ve been playing the keyboard since I was a child. Back then, practising at home gave me so much comfort and joy – I even loved playing the “boring” arpeggios and scales over and over again, much to my parents’ delight… (I was soon gifted a pair of headphones to plug in). Perfecting and rearranging songs over and over became a form of escapism, so much so that when I was unwell or sick, I could play for hours and be completely distracted from any aches or pains. Like magic!

A couple of years ago I picked it back up again more regularly (and I’ve now graduated to singing whilst playing – bad luck neighbours). It still has the same “magic”-like effects when I’m in the zone – if I’m feeling frustrated or anxious, there’s nothing like hammering out a few power chords to soothe the soul.

Submitted by Mrs Burge (Marketing, Communications and Estates Officer)

I love live performance – being in the audience as well as being on stage! Singing brings me so much joy and it’s incredibly rewarding to do something that I have worked very hard at for many years – after working on the technique, it’s important to remember to just enjoy it for myself too.

Singing is also something that I can share with my friends and brings happiness through our mutual connection – singing a duet with one of my closest friends (Miss McLoughlin) was a super special experience!

Submitted by Miss Fletcher (Music and Performing Arts Teacher)

I have been (very much to my surprise!) enjoying being a part of the staff choir, despite the early morning and the fact that I can’t really sing… I always feel brighter and more smiley afterwards. I also find the simple act of painting my nails very therapeutic!

Submitted by Mrs Rust (Head of Admissions)

It’s a simple one but I love colouring with my daughter, Lyla (so it’s usually Disney princesses);

it’s so relaxing to just take the time and focus.

Submitted by Mrs Lavery (Sports Coach and Teaching Assistant)

I play the saxophone – and it’s been a great way to connect. I have made lots of friends through joining groups and it’s a really good feeling; making people smile when you perform.

When living abroad, I joined a jazz band which allowed me to make friends with people from Singapore from all generations. Rehearsals were on a Sunday evening and it was a nice way to clear my mind of any ‘Monday fears’ and forget about work for a moment.

Submitted by Miss Goswell (Assistant SENCo)

I really enjoy baking and I make cakes for friends and family birthdays. Putting on some music and taking the time to be artistic with the decorating process is such a calming thing for me to do; it often helps me work through my thoughts when I have no other distractions. It’s a nice come down from always being so busy with the little ones in the week!

Submitted by Miss Jackson (Early Years Teaching Assistant)

One of my favourite things to do that makes me feel good is sing, whether that is in front of a big audience or by myself at home. It’s a great way of expressing how you feel; if you can’t find the words to explain how you’re feeling, there is probably a song that will describe it perfectly! So, I find that singing can be a great way of releasing any pent-up emotions! Singing is also a wonderful thing to do with friends and family; it brings you together and can help to form new supportive relationships – for example, our staff choir group!

Submitted by Miss McLoughlin (Early Years Teaching Assistant)

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