Instead of using a stress ball – or any other tool you can think of to release some pent-up energy – why not use clay?
Yes, clay – the kind you can easily buy from a store. You’d be surprised at how it can help you express your creativity, boost your senses, and so much more.
Don’t believe us? Then talk to Leonard Kok, the principal curriculum developer and facilitator of The Creative Clay Co (Thecreativeclayco) – a company in Singapore that uses clay to develop programmes that promote bonding, better communication and motor skills, and a richer imagination. They hold corporate team building activities, public workshops, clay therapy and clay birthday parties, just to name a few.
He prepares the colourful air-dried clay himself to make sure everything is just right.
“I’ve played and worked with clay for more than 20 years, and it has provided me with a lot of fun and enhanced gross and fine motor skills,” he says.
“I also believe that my general physical and mental wellness is due to my daily exercise with clay. To be honest, I don’t remember getting hit by a serious flu bug.”
That’s pretty impressive
But that’s not all. “Playing with clay promotes sensory development – rolling with palms and fingers, pressing, pounding and kneading all strengthen muscles and tendons,” Leonard explains.
He only needs to look at his apprentice, Joycelin Toh, for confirmation. Joycelin has cerebral palsy, and she and Leonard have been working with the malleable product for six years – with exceptional results.
“I interact regularly with people with special needs,” Leonard states. “Playing with clay helps to enhance their muscle control, and at the same time provides an activity that increases their mindfulness, leading to greater calmness and an increased sense of well-being.”
It also promotes holistic left and right brain development, he adds. “Just like the soles of the feet have pressure points that are connected to the vital organs of our body, our two palms also have acupressure points that promote wellness. So when we roll the clay and do things with the clay on our palms, we’re actually engaging in activating and detoxifying our vital organs.”
Joycelin agrees. “She has personally testified that her finger dexterity, as well as muscle control, have improved after joining The Creative Clay Co,” Leonard declares proudly. “The standard of the clay figurines she makes by hand has also improved.” Not to mention her confidence too.
Leonard has also used clay for counselling. He once “facilitated the construction of clay objects and symbols to represent inner emotions and emotional conflicts”, and “subsequently empowered the deconstruction of one’s fears by making symbols which represented hope and a positive future”.
It’s powerful stuff
And corporate groups have noticed. “They’ve engaged me for team bonding sessions and given me very positive feedback. They’re happy that their co-workers and colleagues are actively engaged in the activity.”
Leonard understands why. “Through playing with clay in a safe but experiential setting, it engages everyone in the team as it’s hands-on. It also helps that the clay I use is colourful and vibrant.
“In addition, it makes abstract concepts come alive as the clay is used to create visual symbols. For example, an apple could mean ‘health is wealth’, and if the participant makes an apple as a New Year’s resolution, then the abstract term is given personal meaning; this will stay longer in their memories.
“This in turn will make the goal of healthy living a more achievable one, as it serves as a visual reminder in their cubicle for the entire year.”
Leonard offers one more tip to fuel our creativity and foster a more positive outlook with the help of clay.
“All of us can be more creative, contrary to theories based on genetics,” he maintains. “The key is consistency. Take a piece of clay and play with it regularly! Use both your hands to create the things that you love.” Hopefully it’ll keep you alert and active.
It might just get your brain happily buzzing too. “We’re in the midst of creating our own clay, which will be infused with different essential oils to do therapy,” Leonard announces. “Our first target audience is senior citizens. It’ll enhance their gross and fine motor skills.”
So what are you waiting for? Purchase some clay now. :)