Battling Burnout: How Can Artfulness Help?

Students draw mandalas on rocks as a part of an activity with the Artfulness Initiative.

During college many people reach a burnout moment. Whether it happens because of exams, a particularly difficult project or an unexpected life experience, the ebb and flow of work and responsibility can catch up with even the most organized and diligent students.

It is important in these difficult and stressful moments to practice self-care and understand your own limitations. To promote awareness of burnout and answer that need for positive, mindful activities, VCU is launching the Artfulness Initiative in the fall of 2016.

The purpose of the Artfulness Initiative is to help its users bring their minds back into the present through the use of arts-based practices as a way to reduce stress and burnout.

In a nutshell, Artfulness is a website that houses a series of process-oriented art practices meant to help adults focus less on the stress of yesterday and tomorrow and focus more on being in the now.

Mindfulness has shown success in reducing stress and burnout in health professionals. However, the use of art in the practice of mindfulness is less documented, but still has the potential to be useful.

It’s important to note that the art process is more important than the product, and that no specific artistic aptitude or experience is required.

Artfulness launch events began in Sept. and lead up to the official launch in October of 2016.

The Artfulness Initiative was created as a collaboration among professionals during the 2015 Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute Leadership Development program.

The Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute Leadership Development program has historically been a breeding ground for initiatives that have been implemented around VCU.

The Artfulness Initiative was created by Dvora Courtland, George Deeb, Sarah Golding, Arnold J. Kemp, Whitney Lovelady, Tito Luna, Molly B. Ransone and Mary Shelden. The project is sponsored by Jon Becker, the director of Online Academic Programs and Learning Innovation at the ALT Lab.

The Artfulness website and media were created by VCU’s ALT Lab including Molly B. RansoneEmma GauthierTom Woodward and Max Schlickenmeyer.

COBE Director Dr. Danielle Dick, Director of Student Engagement Amy Adkins and Media Specialist Craig Zirpolo all contributed to the project, as well as many other COBE researchers and practitioners.

Session 1 is currently live on the Artfulness website! Sessions 2, 3 and 4 will be released on a rolling basis through October.

And if you want to find out more about upcoming events, email for updates.