About Jen PicicciJen Picicci is an artist and author living in the mountains of Western North Carolina. She develops joy-giving, soul-lifting artwork, which is readily available on cards, journals, and more. She likewise teaches classes on how to develop from your innermost self. To see her work, follow her on social media, or download some free wall art, see www.JenPicicci.com.
“Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, however from wishing to manage it.” ~ Kahlil Gibran
Stress and anxiety has followed me around like a lost dog searching for a bone for years now.
I feel it the most acutely when Im concerned about my health or my childs health. I see an unusual rash or feel an uncommon sensation and all of an unexpected: panic!
My concerns are not limited to health issues though, and my ruminations go in the direction of dread about the future of the world, frets about my financial resources, and fears that Im unsatisfactory.
Is my anxiety called for? My mind informs me it is.
” Remember how you had that bad response to a medication? It could occur again!”
” You understand how your child had that febrile seizure two years ago? You never know what might take place next!”
” Think back to that time you and your family had a slow winter season and were extremely anxious about cash. That might be simply around the corner!”
And on and on my mind goes. I know I shouldnt think what it tells me, but often I get drawn under and cant help it.
I dont think I was nervous like this when I was a kid. I think these underpinnings of uneasiness began when I was older, probably my late twenties. I suppose by then I d lived adequate life to understand that things can and do go wrong.
I do not like sensation distressed. I dont like the method my body feels jangly and my mind races. I do not like it when I cant focus on the important things Im supposed to be doing.
This is not an unfortunate story, its a story of little actions and tiny improvements forward. Its a journey of discovering peace in the middle of a storm.
For me that peace began with painting.
Let me go back a few years, back to when stress and anxiety wasnt part of my life. When I was a child, I loved art. I drew, I colored, I took extra art classes on the weekends because thats what I enjoyed.
I went to college to become an art instructor, changing to a graphic design track later on. When I completed school in May of 2001, I had a part-time style task, and after the occasions of September 2001, I knew I needed to travel, to get out of the safe life I was residing in my hometown.
Thats when my creative practices fell by the wayside. I would never ever quit those years of travel and camping and working random jobs, but when I recall, I see this is where I stopped making art.
Fortunately, after the birth of my child in 2014, the desire to produce came roaring back. In the beginning, I was using a tiny corner of a bedroom in our small mountaintop rental house to paint. Eventually we bought a home, and I had the space to expand, to keep my products on top of my desk, ready to paint whenever the urge struck.
Thats when I started discovering something crucial: Painting stilled me in a method that absolutely nothing else did. It reduced my fears and stress and anxieties in a manner other practices (deep breathing, practicing meditation) did not, at least not as consistently.
Painting is my tranquil place. Painting brings me directly into the minute, rapidly and easily. You know how youre expected to stay mindful and present? Thats what painting provides for me, no suggestions or techniques or timers or mantras needed.
Yes, I use other methods to stop my stress and anxiety, however painting is my outright favorite. I get to produce something brand-new. I get to stream with wherever the brush takes me. I get to be still inside while the remainder of the world slopes, all while enabling something gorgeous to emerge.
When distressed thoughts begin to swirl, I know what to do. I head into my studio, grab some products, and start developing. Soon enough, the spiraling worries are gone and instead my mind is quiet.
Even if you arent artistic, even if you dont have an innovative bone in your body, I still believe you can accomplish the stillness I achieve when painting. You might not have a brush in your hand!
Things initially: If you have a hard time with stress and anxiety, you need to look for the help of a licensed specialist. As helpful as painting is, I also see a counselor, and the tools shes provided me are absolutely invaluable.
Now that weve gotten that out of the way, here are the other methods I think stillness and peace can be discovered, even if youre not meditating or breathing deeply while counting to ten.
When you were a child, think back to what brought you delight and the sensation of circulation. Maybe for you it was playing sports or a musical instrument; writing your own sketches or training your dog to roll over. Whatever it was, try to find methods to include more of it back into your life now.
Start paying attention to your life as an adult and what activities make you forget about the time. When do you completely let go?
I do this now, specifically when Im not painting. I understand that a still mind releases my anxiety, and I also know I cant paint all hours of the day.
I think the reason painting is so valuable for my stress and anxiety is that, in order for me to be anxious, I need to be stressing about the future and what it holds. I have to be in the moment; there is no other option when Im doing an activity that needs my full concentration.
All of the practices that we can utilize to discover calm, whether its changing our thoughts, following our breath, duplicating a prayer or mantra, they all rely on the very same thing: bringing our existence to the now.
What activity brings you into the now? What makes you feel totally alive and laced with the moment? If youre creative, it doesnt matter. It does not matter if you like making things. The only thing that matters is discovering a way to be here, in the now, rather of in the unknowable future.
** Artwork by the author, Jen Picicci
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I do not think I was nervous like this when I was a kid. I think these underpinnings of anxiety began when I was older, probably my late twenties. Yes, I use other techniques to quell my anxiety, however painting is my absolute favorite. Believe back to what brought you joy and the feeling of circulation when you were a child. I understand that a still mind releases my stress and anxiety, and I also understand I cant paint all hours of the day.