Let’s talk about stress. Coming from a family of teachers, our entire household is on edge due to the school year beginning. Sufficient to say, my brain has been a touch preoccupied. So, when it came to writing a blog post this week, I had NO idea what to write. Then, I realized this stress is not unique to me or my family. We’re all stressed. Schools don’t know what they’re doing. Parents don’t know what they’re doing. And unfortunately, artists don’t know what they’re doing. Art events, galleries, classes and places of employment remain closed. In other words, COVID has thrown us all through a loop. Now, I don’t have the solution for all this anxious energy buzzing about. Trust me, I wish I did. However, I have discovered a few tactics which bring me temporary moments of relief. Plus, a surprising source of guidance on the topic. And don’t worry, it’s not meditation. As much as I wish I could reach a calm yogi state of mind, I’m not there yet. So, here’s some things which have helped me instead.

  1. Journaling gratitude: Now, sometimes people recommended writing out the things that are worrying you… this does NOT work for me. Once I start my brain going in that direction, it never stops. However, when I take a moment to write out the things I’m grateful for, this same idea applies. It’s usually hard to stop. When I start writing my list, my anxious thoughts slowly transform into warm fuzzy feelings I have towards the people I love. In other words, it usually takes me down memory lane, which is (usually) welcomed.
  2. Running: We’ve all heard the advantages of exercise, so all I’ll say here is it works for me. Some people workout to stay in shape. I work out for my mental health. There’s nothing like going on a hard run—and feeling the stress melt away. If you have yet to try it and are able, I highly recommend it.
  3. Appreciating the small moments: Yesterday was a particularly rough day, so I went outside for a moment to myself. However, it was immediately interrupted by the backyard shenanigans of my niece and nephews. So, I simply watched them play. The rays of sun danced over their little quest, providing the necessary light to find the “poisonous” apples. Luke was in the sandbox next to me, sneakily pouring cups of sand on my feet. After every courageous pour, he would anxiously glance up, seeing if I took notice. I did. Yet, I pretended to be oblivious to such trickery. It was a small movement, but it was just what I needed. Their playful adventure brought me back to the present, reminding me of the importance of a child’s approach to life.

We often ignore the lessons of our youth. It’s difficult, because as adults, we want to complicate things. This is something I’m particularly good at. Yet, in times of stress, I think kids often show us the most resiliency. So, if you’re feeling stressed, perhaps try out one of my tips. Or maybe follow the lead of a child in your life. Adults may be confused, but our kids sure seem to know what they’re doing.

All photos by Hannah Pomante

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this blog belong solely to the Spokane Art School Artist-in-Residence, and not necessarily to the Spokane Art School.