We hear a lot about mindfulness these days, but what does it really mean to be mindful, and how can we practice it daily? Mindfulness doesn’t have to involve downloading meditation apps and sitting in silence with our thoughts. Instead, it can be about connecting with ourselves and finding joy through creative practices like art and journaling.

We often get so caught up in our busy lives, taking care of family, work, and friendships, that we forget about ourselves. I certainly move through parts of my day like a checklist and can neglect to ask myself if I’m present and in the moment. We would all do well to ask ourselves: “Where is my joy time? When can I connect with myself and do something that brings me joy?” By doing so, we open up space to explore mindfulness in a more creative and enjoyable way.

Mindfulness has numerous benefits, including improving mental and physical health, enhancing focus, and helping us manage stress and anxiety. It can also positively impact our relationships, making them more fulfilling by being present and attentive.

To begin your mindfulness journey, start with an open heart and mind, and try activities that bring you joy. A mindfulness practice doesn’t have to look like sitting on a meditation cushion, struggling with one’s thoughts. For some, journaling or creative pursuits like drawing and painting might be more effective than traditional meditation.

When I started my mindfulness journey, I found that—rather than meditation apps or cushions—journaling, drawing, painting, and music worked best for me. Most importantly, they all bring me joy!

One way to practice mindfulness through journaling is by using guided imagery. To do this, think of a place or memory that brings you peace and joy, then describe the sounds, sights, smells, and sensations you experience in a journal. This process can help you connect with yourself and discover more about who you are. Through this active mindfulness practice you may also gain new ideas about what else would help you flourish.

Drawing and painting, as I mentioned, can also be excellent mindfulness practices. Both invite self-expression and can improve your mood and self-worth. Consider using music to set the mood while engaging in these creative activities.

In Asheville, there are several places where you can explore mindfulness through art therapy, such as The Center for Creative Arts Therapy, Blue Ridge Art Therapy, and Asheville Art Therapy. These centers offer opportunities to connect with others and share your experiences through art and writing, fostering a sense of community.

So, give yourself the gift of joy by incorporating mindfulness, art, and health into your daily life. Embrace the creative practices that resonate with you, and watch your well-being flourish!

This blog post was written by Katey Perry, FNP, one of Integrative Family Medicine of Asheville’s medical providers. Visit our website to learn more about how we do medicine differently.