Caring for children, conducting activities for the elderly, attending to our clients and pressing tasks demanding our immediate response would characterise an average work day. It would have been the same on 23 April for the entire staff body of Presbyterian Community Services (PCS). Instead, we had our annual Corporate Learning Day, where we did many things except do our day-to-day work. From Nagomi art, to cooking delicious Vietnamese PHỞ BÒ and spring rolls, to painting stools…well if you name it, someone probably did it!
Themed “Heart to He.ART — Sharing Our Passion with One Another”, the workshops were focused on two things: 1) our colleagues sharing their passion with each other, and 2) improving our collective mental well-being together. Pursuing avenues of creative expression as an outlet has a symbiotic relationship with mental health. When we do it together as a like-minded community, it can help to alleviate anxiety and depression, while encouraging camaraderie and confidence.
Pre-Covid, we would all have gathered in one campus. However, since the pandemic happened last year, we had to gather in small groups, in various locations all across Singapore. This did not stop us from gathering virtually as one body in the beginning of the day.
We started our morning remembering all of us are talented and gifted in our own ways (opening sharing by Mr David Lim, Group Executive Director of PCS). Next, we were reminded through songs that our help comes from Jesus who is strong and kind. Finally, we dived into 1 Corinthians 12, led by Mr Jonathan Kok (Vice Chairman of PCS) to remind us that each of our gifts are different, but we are to function as one body. Everyone brings their unique gifts from God to the table, and we cannot do much if we operate in silo and do not come together. Hence, we are to nurture and steward our gifts to serve others, and ultimately, God.
Building Strong Mental Health Through Art
Then, came what everyone is most excited about – the workshops conducted by our own staff. It was such a heartening day – to have 18 of our very own step up and share their gifts with others.
At MARTHA Senior Activity Centre, Mr Wang Kim Meng (who works as a Social Work Supervisor) mobilized everyone to plant something! Participants learnt the basics of potting soil and cutting for successful planting. The process of meticulously creating an environment optimal for the plant to grow was rejuvenating. For most of us who work at PCS, the process of enabling others is not new to us. But with a new subject, participants of this workshop have the opportunity to bring home their potted plants. In time, we hope they can see their plant bear fruit. What a wonderful picture of how our efforts today will reap amazing growth and fruits in the future with God’s help!
One of the participants is Ms Zhou Nan Nan, a preschool teacher at PCS Pasir Ris 21.
I enjoyed the process of planting as it was peaceful and helped me to relax… seeing the plant germinate makes me feel fulfilled. — Zhou Nan Nan, Preschool Teacher from PCS Grow & Glow @ Pasir Ris 21 Childcare Centre
Being in close proximity to elements of nature does much to improve one mood and regulate our stress. While the act of nurturing is not new, Ms Zhou allowed her mind to focus on a different task. It distracted the brain from stress-inducing experiences. We are also sure that potting plants together with other colleagues provided much opportunity for banter and laughter – a double win!
Ms Cherie Sim, a Corporate Communications Executive, chose to attend her workshops based on where the workshops were located. She ended up attending an art jamming and stool painting workshop. As creating visual arts is not her forte, she shared how she was skeptical about the process at first. As a new staff, she will also be meeting most people for the first time. “I felt anxious because I’m not very good at doing art. I [also] will have to meet a lot more people that I’m not used to working with,” she said.
But I realised that there was a lot of value in [painting together] because we get to connect with like-minded people in a very informal and non-work setting. The nature of the activity also allows you to understand your colleague’s personalities better, and that would help you appreciate them as individuals and energise your work relationship. — Cherie Sim, Corporate Communications Executive
The participants had come to the art and painting workshop empty handed, but each left armed with renewed friendships, art pieces and a day of exploring where their creative limits lie. Even the self-professing non-artists can vouch that their messes still contained messages that communicated their experiences and their personalities.
Many Individuals, One Maker
Taking a day to invest in our own well-being, with an intentional interest in colleagues we normally do not get to have extended conversations with, was a beautiful picture of the organisation PCS seeks to become – a tapestry of grace and evidence of God’s work and mercy in each of our lives and jobs. When we slow down to care for one another, we will not only do well for our own sake, but be more able to walk with one another through difficulties at work.
Remember, care for one another! We were not designed to do life in silo, nor work without rest.
Follow Us On Social Media!