Public relations has been named one of the 10 most stressful occupations. Learn about the healing art of Zentangle and how practicing mindful art can significantly improve mental health. As PR practitioners, we know the value of research. Multiple studies have been done about the mental health and stress reduction benefits of Zentangle. Rick Roberts and Maria Roberts, founders of the Zentangle method explore stress relief through this art form that anyone – yes, anyone, can learn!

A quick personal note about  Zentangle from your host, Kathie Taylor, APR:

Last year, a pilot public health research study was published on the effects of Zentangle art workplace health promotion activities on rural healthcare workers, which is timely as the study was conducted over 2019 and into 2020 at the height of the pandemic.

The conclusion drawn by the researchers was: “The study provides evidence that painting therapy can effectively relieve stress, reduce workplace stress and frustration, enhance self-efficacy, and increase commitment to work among healthcare workers, thus improving their physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. Zentangle art provides employees with multiple channels for expressing their emotions and can improve the physical and mental health of healthcare workers in the workplace. It is beneficial and cost-effective and can serve as a benchmark for peer learning.”

(Other articles about Zentangle and mental health can be found here.)

And it’s so applicable to all professions. I saw a list of the top 10 stressful careers, and I was both surprised and not surprised to see public relations on that list, right up there with police officers and firefighters. It got me thinking about the many conversations I’ve had with PR professionals over the last couple of years doing this podcast and some of the crazy situations that we find ourselves in the midst of and we’re on go-mode to come up with ways to communicate with people on what they need to know, whether it’s a dormitory at the university that exploded while kids were inside, or a horrible crash at the air races, or the one that really got me was Scott Oxarart, who Becca Allured, APR, and I spoke with who in the midst of the COVID pandemic had to search his email daily with the word death in order to properly report the county’s casualties during this terrible time, and Paula Pedene, who was made the face of the Veteran’s Affairs scandal in Arizona, and the toll it took on him and family. Crisis communication is a daily part of our jobs, so we often mask our inner emotions in order to create calm out chaos.

I also started thinking about the mechanics of my own job. We are on deadlines, sometimes shifting deadlines, in our agency, we work with multiple industries so we’re always scrambling to learn.

Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas, Zentangle with Kathie Taylor, APR, CZT, BetterPRBut if we expand that view, everyone experienced high stress during the pandemic. Our lives were turned upside down and everything changed.

When I wrote to Rick and Maria to ask you to be our guests on BetterPR, I mentioned some of our previous guests. In our job and all stressful jobs, we often tamp down our own emotions in order to present a calm message to those who need to hear it. For me personally, Zentangle is a means of quieting my very busy ADHD brain, which allows me to Turn. It. Off.

My sister, Deb Page, CZT, the OG, my partner in crime and misadventure, has been tangling, as they call it, since 2013. About 4 1/2 years ago, I got brave enough to ask her to show me. She did, and I fell in love. I started taking classes and tangling my heart out. Last year, Deb and I took the Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT) training and began teaching classes.

I was beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to talk – really talk – with Rick and Maria about the link between art and improving mental health. Beyond the research project mentioned above, Zentangle is working with

Finally, check out the Zentangle Mental Health Awareness Month activities from May of this year here. Through blogs, videos and newsletters, the folks at Zentangle shared stories, projects, and words of hope.

I hope you will enjoy this love story as much as I have! (And yes, I totally fan-girled through the entire session!) If you want to hear more Rick and Maria podcasts, see the two here.