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Fit For You: Mindfulness


Mindfulness and calming techniques are often associated with helping children with anxiety, but lately, these practices have been put to work in adulthood.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison even has theCenter for Healthy Minds that is dedicated to researching ways and methods to cultivate the well-being of all people. From yoga to meditation to the rising popularity of coloring books for adults, improving a person's mental and emotional state has gained significant ground.

Carrie Danhieux-Poole is an art therapist with Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Network, and she explains that mindfulness is a skill that anyone can cultivate.

"Mindfulness is a way where you can learn to choose what you focus your attention on," she says.

For adults who have not participated in mindful activities, Danhieux-Poole says, it can be a stressful experience to quiet the mind. Unlike our pets or children that live in the moment, "part of what stresses (adults) out is that we don't stop to just be, we're always reflecting or we're always planning," she says.

Danhiex-Poole utilizes art and mindfulness in her everyday work with patients, including those undergoing cancer treatment. She says mindfulness programs have beenprovento change stress levels and blood flow in cancer patients.

One of Danhieux-Poole's patients said, "what I love about painting is that when I'm painting, I'm not thinking about having caner."

Although the adult coloring craze has spread far beyond treating patients, Danhieux-Poole thinks that it is a good thing for everyone to find some activity that is easily accessible and helps to quiet the mind. "I think it can be very organized and can quiet down that chaos that we might be feeling in our lives," she says.

There is some debate over whether coloring on your own can substitute for art theraphy. Danhieux-Poole insists that anyone can pick up this exercise and benefit from it. Whether it is in a group coloring session at a local library, in your home or in an art therapy session, she encourages everyone to participate in some form of mindfulness.

"I assure people that you don't need to be an artist to participate in an art therapy session. It's really about having a willingness to participate and to learn something about yourself through the process," says Danhieux-Poole.

Audrey is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.