Regina Martin, MSN, BSN, RN
A healthy lifestyle isn’t just about diet and exercise. It’s also about taking care of your mind.
As a 28-year veteran in the nursing field, Regina Martin believes this whole-heartedly. That’s why she turns to her love of painting for clarity, relaxation, and peace of mind.
It all started 3 years ago when Regina, who would not have described herself as an artist, decided to take a painting class. She attended the class with her sister for fun, only to realize how freeing and relaxing it was. She soon decided to try it again, this time at her home.
One thing led to another and soon Regina was holding painting sessions with her family, at holiday gatherings, and even with colleagues as a team-bonding activity at work. The people around her supported her love of painting and delighted in joining her when possible. Regina soon fell in love with a specific type of painting called fluid art, or acrylic pouring.
“It’s when you blend your own paint, make it fluid, choose colors that go together, and change the viscosity of the paint,” said Regina. “There’s a lot of chemistry involved, depending on how you look at it.”
During the process of mixing and blending the paint, the day fades away. Regina focuses only on what she’s creating and finds her mind quieting.
“I have a very busy mind as a nursing leader, mentor, mother — there’s always tons of things to work through,” said Regina. “But painting is as much of a meditation as anything else, and I get lost in the process.”
Coping During COVID-19
Now more than ever, Regina finds herself turning to art therapy at least once or twice a week. She usually has multiple projects brewing at once, and her art mimics her mood. Sometimes she goes for faster, messier projects, and other times she takes the time to practice brush strokes.
Even with social distancing during the pandemic, Regina found a way to include family in painting sessions. Her sister supported her idea to hold “virtual painting sessions” and they have done that together multiple times.
At work, Regina led art therapy as a team-building exercise for both clinical and non-clinical staff under her leadership. She called the experience “surprisingly effective.” Not only did the team bond, but the activity gave Regina insight into different staff members’ personalities. For example, is the employee more of a go-with-the-flow type of person? Or does the person perform better when sticking to a plan?
In the fluid art paint process, you start by deciding what you want to accomplish and creating a plan. But once you start painting, the paint is going to do what the paint wants to do.
“It’s kind of like life,” says Regina. “You do all of this planning and setting yourself up, but real life happens. You have to work with what’s given to you.”
As a nurse, Regina understands the health and wellness challenges that medical professionals face. Her advice:
- Find a strong support team. You need to have someone in your corner who understands what makes you feel fulfilled and encourages it. It’s a bonus when your support system joins you in doing what you enjoy.
- Find what makes you smile. You must have time to focus on things that bring you joy and clarity. Prioritize your happy place, even if you can only go there virtually now.
- Be open to new experiences. Regina didn’t plan to fall in love with art, but now it’s the one activity that brings her the most peace.
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