Here at the The Terrace we are always keen to promote ways to relieve stress and aid our general feeling of well-being. Play therapy is something we usually think of in relation to supporting vulnerable children, but in this guest post, written today by Sarah Cruickshank, we can see there is value in play for adults too. Her suggestions are mindful, her practice thoughtful, yet not overthought. It reminds us of the new ‘craze’ for adult colouring in – something French women in particular have done for years to relieve stress and take the mind on flights of fancy, offering release from tension and refreshing the spirit…
Here I am sharing something that makes me happy and relaxes me and as I am (almost) 47 years old it’s going to be something unexpected – playdough. Not just playing with it, but making it and then playing with it.
I love thinking about what colour it should be (what season are we in, how am I feeling today, what might I make with it?) How it should smell (do I just want the smell of dough or do I want to add lemon or peppermint or lavender?) Am I feeling sparkly enough to add glitter? Do I want to make two different colours and explore mixing them together?
Playing with playdough is very much about the process and not the end product. Sometimes I make intricate little flowers or quite detailed little sculptures, and sometimes I just roll and flatten and make worms. I really like plaiting two different colours together and then making balls and sausages again and again to watch the colours marble and eventually blend together to create a third colour. Sometimes I see how I can make a blob by pressing it between my finger and thumb again and again until I can almost see through it (like perfect filo pastry).
I never keep my creations, I always crush them when I’ve finished, the end product doesn’t really matter, it’s just the feeling of the dough and exploring where my mind and my hands take me on a particular day.
The great thing about playdough is that you have to take your time with it, you have to knead it and get it nice and warm and you can’t work with too big a bit at a time because otherwise it just doesn’t get to that nice warm, flexible consistency you need to really be able to work it.
I recently discovered the perfect recipe, which I share with you here. Cheap ingredients are the best:
1 cup flour
½ cup salt
2 tablespoons cream of tartar
1 tablespoon oil
1 Cup boiling water
1 tablespoon poster paint (you can use food colouring but paint gives a much more vibrant colour)
flavourings (lemon, peppermint essence, etc)
Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl. Add the liquid ingredients and mix well with a spoon. It will look really sloppy to start with, but keep going and it will magically turn into a ball in the bowl.
Knead the mixture well.
Play with it to your heart’s content.
The mixture will keep for a few days in an airtight container of a sealed plastic bag.
You don’t necessarily need a purpose in mind when you start, just play and see where the experience takes you. If you really find yourself wanting to keep something you’ve made, the dough will dry out quite quickly, but it will be brittle.
Most important of all… Have fun!
Our thanks to Sarah, a Nursery Practitioner and Freelance Writer on family and well-being . Find out more at her website http://www.alifemorelived.co.uk/.