Stress is a normal reaction of our mind a body. We face it every day. An unexpected change occurs, something unpleasant happens. As result, we give different physical, emotional, and intellectual responses. Those help us to adjust to the challenges. Some stress can be positive, keeping us alert, motivated, and ready to avoid danger. Nevertheless, when it is constant and unhandled it is bad for our health. It can lead to sadness, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and physical pain. Thus stress management is important to help us deal with changes in a healthier, better way. Many strategies help us reduce the stress level. Today we share some tips, on how art therapy can help you.
What is art therapy?
Art Therapy is using artistic methods to treat psychological disorders and enhance mental health. It is based on the empiric experience that creative expression can foster healing and mental well-being.1
A proven method
According to a 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, less than an hour of creative activity can reduce your stress and have a positive effect on your mental health. This is regardless of artistic experience or talent. Therapists use a variety of art methods, including drawing, painting, sculpture, and collage. Age does not play a role. It is very helpful not only for adults but also for young children. The best is that you do not have to be artistic or talented to explore it, but you have to believe that you can try it. Working with a professional art therapist is the best. But you also can try some exercises on your own.
How to reduce stress levels and relax
Art therapy is a good way to help you relax. Here are a set of exercises you can use to help you to get back things under control and relief the inner pressure:
- Make a scribble drawing. Good also during meetings. Turn a scribble into something beautiful, using your pen, pencil, lines, colors, and your creativity.
- Finger paint. Remember, when you were a kid messing around with colors. Get your hands dirty and have fun spreading paint around freely.
- Make a mandala. Use a traditional prepared one, or draw one on your own, It becomes a meditative exercise and can be later a symbol that helps you to loosen up.
- Make a zentangle. These fun little drawings are a great tool for letting go and helping reduce stress.
- Draw in the dark. Not seeing your drawing, helps you not to worry about esthetics or correctness, so it frees you fully up. It also can give you a sign once revealed.
- Draw something HUGE, and something very small. Getting your body involved and moving around can help release stress as you’re drawing. It also helps you gain perspective of the small and big problems and your ability to shape those.
- Use color blocks. Colors come with emotions attached. Choose several paint chips to work with and collage, paint and glue until you’ve created a colorful masterpiece.
- Experiment, with which colors calm you. Try to use only those to help you cal down.
- Paint to music. Let your creativity flow in response to music, let your feelings out, and maybe even do it with closed eyes. You soon will feel the relaxation.
- Draw in sand. It is called Land Art. You may know the Zen garden, as they are available in small for your desk. Drawing shapes and scenes in the sand will help you relax. And the fresh air and the water view will clear your mind.
- Color in a design. The simple act of coloring is a great way to relax. Even kids know how too it. It is a fashion, so there are plenty of coloring books for adults, so go ahead and start coloring.
- Draw outside. Working en Plein air can be a fun way to relax and get in touch with nature. It is a well-used group method also by artists. So why not do it yourself and get some D- vitamin on top to strengthen your immune system.
- Do anything creative, as in the end, we end up doing work, where our creativity has no shape and it’s difficult to visualize. So seeing your artwork there brings you happiness. Remember when you were growing for your parents and you made them happy. They still keep your pictures proudly to remind them about the happy moments.
Let yourself be free while expressing your creativity. Don’t allow yourself to judge your work. Just draw, paint or sculpt until you feel you have given everything out. Art is subjective, so you have to tolerate the artwork. Stress is all about emotions, so in our next blog post, we will share techniques to explore your emotions with art therapy methods.
- Van Lith T. Art therapy in mental health: A systematic review of approaches and practices. The Arts in Psychotherapy. 2016;47:9-22. doi:10.1016/j.aip.2015.09.003