Go for a walk, write a gratitude list, take a bubble bath, just some of the practices we’re told can quiet our mental space when it gets a little loud.
Though sometimes we need more, something to really calm the demons.
And that’s exactly what art whisperer Dani Bello can do. By marrying creativity and therapy, she helps people break free from the chaos of their mind in both the holistic and physical sense.
Speaking exclusively to Uspire, Dani revealed how her workshops not only offer people escapism but also a shift in the brain from being on constant alert.
Dani said: “Art can help someone who is struggling as it allows them to come into the present moment and takes them away from the chaos.
“My work supports people as I take away the pressure of art being perfect, which enables the inner child to come out and play.”
She continued: “Science says that when we take time to get creative, this instantly sends neurons to the amygdala to relax. The amygdala is the part of the brain that drives our ‘fight or flight’ response and is associated with the body’s innate fear and stress responses.
“Alongside this, if we remove judgement of art expectations, we help people develop confidence, reduce anxiety, and enjoy the creative process.”
In her sessions, which she delivers one-on-one or in groups, Dani invites people to use art freely as an outlet while also structuring classes around personal goals and aspirations.
Having experienced depression and anxiety herself while growing up, Dani knows first-hand that the only thing to truly help some people find self-acceptance is getting creative.
She said: “Drawing, scribbling, painting, you name it, I did it! It helped so much, it made me feel free and at peace inside my mind.
“I can still have challenging moments where I feel low and unmotivated, so I will often give myself one of my own sessions.
“For me, coping mechanisms are about taking away stress and accepting it’s okay if I’m not okay. I’ll also take things off my to-do list, meditate, or do something I feel is kind to me at that moment.”
While being creative has proved to be Dani’s saviour, it wasn’t always plain sailing and at school she was told her artwork wasn’t good enough.
The burden of feeling like art had to be perfect nearly made Dani quit the creative process forever, yet an offer from the University of South Wales helped changed her outlook.
Dani explained: “It was only when I went to study creative and therapeutic arts, and my lecturer said she loved the way I see art and how my thinking behind it creates therapeutic potential, that I finally felt someone sees how I see.
“However, in my second year of university, I lost a close friend to knife crime and began losing sight of what I wanted from the course. I ended up failing that year, although as I was also working at the National Autistic Society, it was this that gave me a lifeline.”
Dani continued: “I was delivering creative and therapeutic sessions, which I loved and knew I never wanted to stop, so I set up Bello Mind and Soul.
“I didn’t know much about business at all. However, I did know that my soul lit up whenever I delivered a class – so I took a chance. I also had the opportunity to re-do the modules I failed and successfully passed second year before going into third year and graduating!”
Now, Dani has successfully rolled out her sessions across schools, mental health charities, and festivals, and has never looked back.
Using art as therapy, she continues to strive for a world where everyone can build self-worth and have positive mental health coping strategies.
She concluded: “I would love to see education change by helping others find a sense of true acceptance and breaking down barriers to make support so much more accessible.
“I want to see people talking without the stigma, so we can live in a world where we find peace and acceptance within ourselves and others, and I truly believe that we will.”
Right, time to dig out the pencils and paints!
To get involved, click here: Bello Mind And Soul.