Reclaim your lunch break with a bite of Creative Space

In this month’s blog, our Engagement Consultant, Sally Hughes, talks about the benefits of breaking at lunchtime, time that she feels is a perfect opportunity to take a few moments of creative space - time for you to refocus and recharge. There's a micro-activity at the end to get your creative juices flowing, and another in our next newsletter, you can find the sign up link on our home page.

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At the beginning of the year, our Director, Sarah Rees, after being inspired by Stylist magazines #ReclaimYourLunchBreak campaign, resolved to encourage us all to take time to reflect and re-energise by taking a lunch break. A few months in and we are going strong.

What do you do during your lunch break? If you’re anything like me you will be all too tempted to fetch your sandwich box and sit back in your spot in front of your screen and browse the web or message friends, catch up on life admin or read an online magazine. I know that when I take time away from my desk, to move, read, walk or draw, I just feel so much better. You could too!

Over the past few months I have committed to taking time to nurture and nourish my creativity through my project ‘Experiments in Creative Space’. What I have learned is that taking a little time everyday to focus on stretching my creativity helps me to feel more focused and more productive. After all, most of us will take time to stretch our bodies with some form of physical activity, but all too often we forget to flex our creative muscles.

In their work around Creative Confidence, David & Tom Kelly, of award-winning design firm IDEO, talk of how embracing creativity is essential for fulfilling your potential, at work and in life. They aim to inspire others to bring out their imaginative side and suggest that the only way to be creative is to ‘open your mind to the idea that you want to be creative’ and ‘expose yourself to new ideas and experiences’.

Perhaps choosing to do something different with your lunch break, like reading, walking, or trying out a creative micro-activity, would be a new experience for you that could help you tap into your creative potential?

For me, creative practice is also a mindful practice. When I am absorbed in an activity, my mind is focused on the task in hand and I notice how the chitter-chatter that sometimes gets overwhelming becomes quieter. In her book Mindfulness & the Art of Drawing, Wendy Ann Greenhalgh reflects on how mindfulness practice provides a focus, be it the sensations in the body, the breath, a mantra, a candle flame, which gives our busy minds something to rest on, to dwell in and to bring us into the here and now. Through drawing, the mindful focus becomes the feeling of the pen, coordination of hand and eye. The attention we pay when drawing mindfully calms, brings space in our heads and hearts and awareness of what it is to be in the moment.

This is what I call ‘Creative Space’. I believe that we can access this space through other forms of creativity too, and in my own practice as well as drawing, I write, make, move and explore, capturing images with my camera. My focus is always on the process, it is never about making a judgement of the work, it’s about being in the moment and enjoying the activity.

10 minute mind-clearer

(WRITING)

Materials: pen, paper

Have you heard of Julia Cameron’s morning pages? The idea is to spend a small amount of time in the morning writing your thoughts on paper. But, why not do it at lunchtime?

  1. Set a timer, or have a clock or watch in sight, give yourself 10 minutes

  2. Take your pen and paper and start to write whatever comes into your mind. I usually start with a phrase like ‘hello and welcome, here’s to writing!’ This seems to get the words flowing. It may be hard at first, but go with it…don’t pause for more than a moment.

  3. Write about anything you want, what you’re having for tea, what your cousin Betty said to Auntie Nora last year, that TV programme you watched or a chat you had with a colleague this morning. It is the act of your hand and mind forming words on the paper that brings the benefits here. De-cluttering the thoughts from the morning will brighten your mind for the afternoon!

Reclaiming your lunch break is all about capturing a little bit of ‘me’ time in the middle of the day to spruce you up for the afternoon. Give it a go, enjoy the process and see how you feel better!

If you’d like to learn more creative activities for everyday, join me at Trade School Cardiff on Tuesday 7th June.

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We’d love to hear your experiences, tell us what you are doing to #reclaimyourlunchbreak @careerwales

In the coming weeks we will be running a series of sessions for women, aged over 25 who live in the Bridgend area, which will explore creativity and wellbeing, as part of our Healthy Happy Me: Mapping My Pathway to Work project. The first event will be on Friday 17th June at Bryntirion Scout Hall from 9.30 – 11.30. We will then be at the YMCA Bridgend on Wednesday 6th July from 10.30 - 12.30. If you would like to come along, email us on admin@careerwomenwales.com or phone/text Sally on 07702 480 513.

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