Our People | Well-being

What is Well-being?
Why do we need to “Get Creative” with Well-being?
How do we “Get Creative” with Well-being?
How do we “Get Creative” with Well-being at school?
What do we need to “Get Creative” with Well-being?
Well-being Links

What is Well-being?
“Well-being, wellbeing, or wellness is a general term for the condition of an individual or group. A high level of well-being means that in some sense the individual’s or group’s condition is positive.
Wellness refers to diverse and interconnected dimensions of physical, mental, and social well-being that extend beyond the traditional definition of health. It includes choices and activities aimed at achieving physical vitality, mental alacrity, social satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment, and personal fulfillment.”



Why do we need to “Get Creative” with Well-being?
– “How to Be a Human Being (Not a Human Doing):
‘I am a human being, not a human doing. Don’t equate your self-worth with how well you do things in life. You aren’t what you do. If you are what you do, then when you don’t…you aren’t.’ – Dr. Wayne Dyer
Are you surviving instead of thriving? Are you more of a human doing than a human being right now?
That’s probably because you spend all your time doing: grocery shopping, helping the kids, cleaning. And on those rare moments when you have free time, you end up still doing stuff, like watching TV or exercising.
This constant doing slowly drains your energy, your health, and your mood.
You might regularly find yourself thinking, What happened to me? I used to be such a fun person! Now I’m just tired.
You’re exhausted because you’ve forgotten what it means to be (related verbs: is, am, are).
Being has very different from doing. Instead, being involves ditching your to-do list once in a while so you can make time to introspect and connect (the highest forms of self care).
When you introspect you think about things like your talents, purpose, priorities, and values, as well as at your place in society and the universe. Introspection helps you understand who you are.
Connection is another important part of being. Connection includes any relationship with a person, thing or idea. You can connect with yourself, other people, nature, beliefs and even with a Higher Power. You need connection to thrive.
So how do you build more being into your life? You begin by creating your ‘Being List,’ which is made up of your responses to 2 statements:
Without comparing yourself to others, list all the activities that help you introspect, reflect, think and understand:
Without comparing yourself to others, list all the activities that help you deeply connect with yourself, other people, nature or a Higher Power:
Your ‘Being List’ becomes your own self-care, burnout-busting program.
As you focus on being instead of doing you might find yourself surfing the internet less, spending more time outside, reaching out to others in person rather than via text, or taking a painting class with your partner rather than watching another sitcom at home.”

“Whether you think you’re creative or not, you definitely are. Humans were born to create and making something that didn’t exist before is one of the greatest joys of life.
There are a thousand ways to create. Some people build houses, paint or draw. Some plant gardens or cook delicious food. Some people arrange flowers, others help bodies heal.
Whether your art is making a beautiful quilt or perfectly logical spreadsheet, your art matters. Whatever your art, don’t undermine it.
Try to see and appreciate the many things you create every day, as well as the art that others make.
Creating is a big deal and an important part of being alive. Give yourself time to create, and to get better and better. It’s one of those little things that makes life sweet and joyful.”

“The emergence of a vibrant art and craft movement in the Christchurch region post earthquake has been an unexpected aspect of the recovery process. The article begins with a review of the literature on traditional responses to disaster recovery illustrating how more contemporary approaches are community-focused. We review the links between crafting and well-being, and report on qualitative research conducted with five focus groups and nine individuals who have contributed to this movement in Christchurch. The findings illustrate the role crafting has played post earthquake, in terms of processing key elements of the disaster for healing and recovery, creating opportunities for social support; giving to others; generating learning and meaning making and developing a vision for the future.”
Examining the Role of Craft in Post-Earthquake Recovery: Implications for Social Work Practice

“How craft is good for our health:
At a time when many of us feel overwhelmed by the 24/7 demands of the digital world, craft practices, alongside other activities such as colouring books for grown-ups and the up-surge of interest in cooking from scratch and productive home gardens, are being looked to as something of an antidote to the stresses and pressures of modern living.
With what is increasingly referred to today as ‘mindfulness’ being a much-desired quality for many people, it’s not surprising crafts are being sought out for their mental and even physical benefits.
In studies of people with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME), depression and other long-term health problems, textile crafts were found to increase sufferers’ self-esteem, their engagement with the wider world, and increase their personal sense of well-being and their ability to live positively with their condition.
While knitting and other textile-based activities tend to be female-dominated, similar benefits have been found for men in the collective woodworking, repair and other productive tinkering activities of the Men’s Sheds movement. Participants reported reduced levels of depression.
What unites almost all of these studies, is that while the practice of craft, especially those such as knitting, quilting, needlework and woodworking, may at first appear to be relatively private activities, the benefits also substantially arise from the social connections craft enables.
These have even been reported across whole communities impacted by disaster, such as the recovery following the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.
One of the strengths of craft practice, especially as a contributor to well-being, is precisely that it can be both solitary and collective, and it’s up to the individual to decide.”

“Mental Health: Unfolding outward. Creative in many areas of life. More neurological connections, creating integration. Freedom to grow and change in external relationship and internal relationship to self.
Mental Illness: Turning inward. Creativity limited. Rigid imagination. Less neurological connections. Limited movement in relationships with self and others.
‘We do not aim at helping someone adapt to reality; rather we seek to help him or her live more creatively. Only the restoration of the imagination can achieve this goal.’ – Steven Levine”

How do we “Get Creative” with Well-being?
“The Five Ways to Wellbeing, Ētahi ara e rima ki te ngākau ora, help people stay mentally well.
They were created as a result of the New Economics Foundation’s (NEF) Foresight Project on Mental Capital and Wellbeing research report.
NEF conducted a review of the most up-to-date evidence and found that building five actions into day to day lives is important for the wellbeing of individuals, families, communities and organisations. The five actions are:
1. – Connect, me whakawhanaunga
‘Talk & listen, be there, feel connected’
2. – Give, tukua
‘Your time, your words, your presence’
3. – Take notice, me aro tonu
‘Remember the simple things that give you joy’
4. – Keep learning, me ako tonu
‘Embrace new experiences, see opportunities, surprise yourself’
5. – Be active, me kori tonu
‘Do what you can, enjoy what you do, move your mood’
You can introduce any of these actions into your life, any time, and you will begin to feel the benefits. Whakatōkia ngā rautaki māmā nei ki tō ao kia rongo ai koe i ngā painga.”

“Diverse ways of being:
‘Art is for all, and should be made accessible to all,’ claims Leong. She says autistic artists have much to offer the neurotypical realm, including a more ‘aware’ way of responding to the world and detail-focused perception.
Contrary to the erroneous neurotypical belief that autism is a barren landscape of isolation, the autistic mind is a thriving ecology teeming with abundant detail, nuances, texture, tastes, sounds, images, smells, profound thought and imagination.”

How do we “Get Creative” with Well-being at school?
“Wellbeing is about feeling good and functioning well.
Good wellbeing is fundamental to our overall health, it affects how well we can overcome difficulties and achieve what we want to in life. It’s strongly linked to happiness.
Wellbeing affects students’ engagement with learning, their social and emotional behaviour and their overall satisfaction with life at school.
There are ways to improve wellbeing. The best news is student wellbeing can be enhanced when evidence-informed practices (like the Sparklers activities) are used by schools, in partnership with families, whānau and the community.”

“How Art Impacts Children: Why is art helpful?
Art provides comfort and hope to children and teenagers facing diverse challenges. ‘The biggest advantage is that art can express things that are not expressible verbally,’ Dr. Sarah Deaver, President of the American Art Therapy Association, explained in an interview with The Huffington Post.
‘That’s a huge advantage for people who don’t have the language to talk about what’s inside of them.’
Studies show that arts on children such as:
better academic results, greater likelihood of college enrollment, increased self-esteem and resiliency, improved emotional intelligence, more civic engagement.
What are the direct impacts of creating art?
Stress Relief: Most artistic activities take place in a safe and relaxing environment. By entering this safe space, children can stop worrying about their everyday life and familial troubles. Children know they won’t be judged for what their artistic piece will be. There is no ‘wrong art.’
Self-Expression: Art opens the door to self-reflection and self-expression. Learning to communicate through painting, drawing, writing, dancing or other arts offers a constructive method for children to share their identities with the outside world.
Self-Confidence: When children learn new skills and engage in social activities, they become more self-confident. Learning social skills like cooperation and conflict resolution in a fun and relaxed environment will help them interact appropriately with others – a skill valuable in all aspects of life, from home to the workplace.
Creativity: Artistic programs can provide an outlet for creativity and problem-solving. Artistic activities encourage children’s natural curiosity and interests. Arts provide effective, engaging methods of emotional and physical stimulation, which encourages the overall creative thinking process.”

What do we need to “Get Creative” with Well-being?
“These projects appear to make a meaningful contribution to the mental
health and well being of communities through providing an opportunity for
individuals who encounter social exclusion, to develop new skills, confidence and a new medium (the arts) through which to share their experiences of oppression and tackle discrimination.
On further exploration many of the projects defined outcomes for service users within three key levels:
Individual Level: providing opportunities for individuals to develop skills and
resilience and to support their recovery.
Community Level: providing a bridge to connecting with opportunities
within communities.
Societal Level: providing a vehicle to tackle stigma, discrimination and
inequalities encountered by people who experience mental health problems.”

“An interactive vision wall:
The Health Design Lab is a research and design centre that works with industry and community partners to improve health products, services and systems — through a “human-centred design” approach.
We work with organizations and communities to ensure that the thing being designed (for example a system, object, communication, space or service) meets the needs of the people who will be using it. We view these users as experts of their own experiences and believe it is crucial to involve them in the design process.
The first half of each workshop aimed to understand the current state of communication between researchers and family members. We used a string mapping activity, in which researchers used blue string to indicate where they typically disseminate information, and families used orange string to indicate where they typically search for research and information. This highlighted gaps in the access and exchange of research.
We designed objects and hands-on activities to trigger conversation, foster dialogue and draw out latent and tacit knowledge from participants. The second half of the workshop used an interview format and group discussion to generate ideas for improving communication and knowledge exchange in the future.
We felt that co-creation activities would be useful in this context, too, to break down barriers between researchers and families and acknowledge both groups as knowledge holders.
To improve knowledge exchange, family and researcher suggestions included using: Knowledge brokers, a physical and online platform, video conferencing, mentorship opportunities and the delivery of research results through videos, newsletters and storytelling.”

“How coping mechanisms allow autistic people to manage their condition:
Autistic people, like Packham, develop these compensatory strategies to cope with their difficulties. They can use non-social skills, such as their attention to detail, logical thinking, and the aforementioned special interests, to help them deal with social situations and jobs that involve other people.
This process has been described in a new theory on autism that explains how autistic people can develop compensatory strategies to deal with things that might not come naturally to them.
This theory helps to explain why autistic people can be so different from each other. Some autistic people, like the person represented by balloon E, have many psychological difficulties but few compensatory strategies leading to more autistic symptoms. Other people with autism, like D, might have so many strategies they no longer reach the diagnostic criteria for autism. So although compensatory strategies might be useful, if they prevent a person being diagnosed, it may mean they don’t get the help they need. Compensating can make it difficult for others to notice that someone is autistic, which might explain why some people, like Packham, are not diagnosed until adulthood.
Another challenge is that compensatory strategies involve mental effort. This can take a lot of energy, and sometimes leads to health problems such as stress and anxiety.
This means that autistic people who compensate well for their psychological difficulties might need other kinds of support, particularly when dealing with the mental effort needed to get by in social situations.
If autistic people are helped to use their psychological strengths – in schools, universities and the workplace – they may be able to cope well in these settings. There are schemes to help autistic people move from school to higher education, and they can sometimes get ongoing support at university. There is also a small but growing set of companies actively seeking the psychological skills of people with autism.
Autistic people can offer a unique perspective and often enjoy doing difficult technical jobs because of their good attention to detail. But this is just the beginning, we need more of these schemes to help older adults with autism cope with the pressures they face in every day life.”

“Autistic people aren’t really accepted – and it’s impacting their mental health:
Up to 70% of autistic people experience mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, according to some research. Unfortunately, we still don’t know why autistic people are at a higher risk for mental health problems than non-autistic people. But one important factor is whether an individual’s autism is recognised and accepted by those around them.
Our survey found that autistic people who felt less accepted by others were more likely to experience higher symptoms of depression and stress. Lower self-acceptance was also related to higher symptoms of depression. These findings suggest that simply feeling accepted plays a key role in a person’s mental health.
We found that the participants who said that they camouflaged also reported higher symptoms of depression. One participant explained that “[camouflaging] is incredibly exhausting and stressful and has ultimately led to mental and physical health problems”. Hopefully you can imagine how draining it must be to feel like you have to constantly hide a major part of yourself from others.
Perhaps by creating a more accepting society, we might see fewer mental health difficulties in autism. But we need more work on autism acceptance to work out how we can actually do this.”

Well-being Links
Creativity for mental wellness
How do we measure well-being?
National Business Group on Health | Well-being