Art is a powerful therapeutic tool that can help reduce the symptoms of anxiety, depression, PTSD, and a variety of other mental and physical illnesses. Using art can help you express your innermost thoughts and emotions when talking is too difficult. Art can also be extremely relaxing, reduce stress, and improve mental focus and overall mood.
What Is Art Therapy?
Art therapy is a general term for an expressive form of therapy that involves using the art-making process to improve mental, physical, and emotional health. Art therapy can involve any type of artistic project, including painting, drawing, sculpture, and collage. Engaging in this creative process allows people to work through mental health issues, manage their feelings, reduce stress, and improve self-esteem.
Anybody can participate in art therapy, even if they’ve never picked up a paintbrush or a pencil. It has nothing to do with skill or experience. Art therapy is soothing because it allows patients to release their emotions in a healthy way. It also helps patients who have a difficult time processing their feelings and putting them into words, as many subconscious messages can be communicated through art pieces.
True art therapy is done under the guidance of a professional art therapist who can help you interpret the underlying messages presented in your art. However, you can still get some of the relaxational benefits of art therapy right from home.
Who Can Art Therapy Help?
Anybody can reap the benefits of art therapy, no matter their age or skill level. Art therapy can help improve communication skills and emotional intelligence, as well as boost self-esteem, confidence, and mood. The healing benefits of art therapy don’t just extend to mental illness but have also been shown to help patients suffering from physical illnesses as well.
Since art therapy allows people to express themselves through creativity rather than talking, it can be especially beneficial to patients who feel out of touch with their emotions or have experienced traumatic events that they have difficulty discussing. Therapists have seen positive results using art therapy techniques with patients experiencing, but not limited to, all of the following:
- Substance Abuse
- Heart Disease
If you or a loved one is struggling with any of the above issues, it’s important to know that you aren’t alone. Art therapy may be able to help you find some relief.
Why Art Therapy?
While most illnesses cannot be treated with art therapy alone, it can be a powerful tool to add to your wellness plan. Illnesses of any kind can often cause feelings of anger, resentment, and isolation. Art therapy helps to combat this by providing a productive emotional outlet, as well as a confidence boost.
One of the wonderful things about art therapy is that it allows patients to channel their negative energy into a physical project they can feel proud of. Learning a skill, such as painting or drawing, can help to boost mood and increase self-worth.
In a study performed on women with cancer, the participants initially reported feeling a loss of confidence, insomnia, and altered social relationships. After they engaged in various art therapy exercises and techniques, the patients said they experienced improved positivity, better mental wellness, and improved body image.
Working with an art therapist can be extremely beneficial for patients who have a difficult time expressing their feelings verbally, as it is much more based on physicality and creative expression. Making art is not only relaxing, but it can help communicate subconscious or repressed messages that can help therapists understand the emotions a patient is feeling. This can be especially helpful for patients experiencing things like PTSD.
Incorporating art into your therapeutic and wellness routines has so many wonderful benefits. It is soothing, reduces stress and anxiety, and teaches valuable coping techniques that can be applied to everyday situations. Plus, you’ll learn an amazing skill and produce wonderful works of art!
Art Therapy At Home
While art therapy is most effective under the guidance of a licensed art therapist to help interpret your art and work through your emotions, there are still lots of benefits to engaging in art therapy right at home. We’ve compiled some relaxing, healing art therapy projects that can help you process emotions, boost your mood, and improve overall mental health.
Projects For Emotions
Art therapy is a great tool for working through complex emotions that cannot be verbalized. Here are some great ideas for projects to help sort through complicated feelings.
- Paint Your Emotions: For this exercise, visualize the most powerful emotion you’re feeling. It could be anger, sadness, jealousy, anxiety, or a mixture of many different feelings. Try to think of what these emotions look like in a physical form, then paint it.
- Stress Painting: This one will definitely be a little abstract, but can be so relieving. Have you ever been so stressed that you just wanted to smash something? Channel that energy into a stress painting. Jab, scribble, even rip all your negative emotions onto a canvas. When you’re done, it will feel like a huge weight has been lifted off your shoulders.
- Make Sock Puppets: While this activity may sound childish, it can actually be extremely soothing for adults as well. Making sock puppets and acting out scenes that made you upset can be very therapeutic. Visualizing how you wish a situation had played out differently can help process your feelings, and equip you with tools to behave differently in the future.
- Make a Postcard You’ll Never Send: This is the art version of writing an angry email to your boss and leaving it in your drafts. Draw or paint an image, then write out a letter to someone you have unresolved feelings towards on the back. This helps to release pent up emotions towards people from your past, and begin to let them go so you can heal.
Projects For Relaxation
Sometimes you don’t have any emotions to work through, but you want to use art to relax, unwind, and release the stress of the day. For these situations, try some of the following projects.
- Paint To Music: Put on your favorite album and let your paintbrush flow to the beat. Many people love using music to unwind, and creating a beautiful painting at the same time doubles the relaxation.
- Finger Paint: Another great activity that both children and adults can love. Finger painting allows you to release the fear of looking silly. It’s also extremely tactile, and can feel great well as get your hands messy and feel the cool paint between your fingers.
- Draw With Calming Colors: Colors can be extremely therapeutic, and can carry a lot of emotions. Try creating a piece of art using only colors you find soothing. For most people, these are cool colors, such as greens, blues, and purples.
Projects For Happiness
Maybe you’re just looking for a mood boost! Try these art therapy projects to make yourself smile.
- Make a Stuffed Animal: Everybody loves to cuddle with a furry friend. If your apartment complex doesn’t allow dogs, try the next best thing. Make a plush version of your favorite animal for whenever you need a hug.
- Draw Your Perfect Day: Whether your perfect day involves going to the beach with family, hiking with friends, or having some alone time at a spa, visualizing it and drawing it out is sure to make you smile. Plus, you can hang it on your wall and use it as a goal to work towards.
- Make a Representation Of Home: Home means something different to everyone. Home can be a place, or a person, or just a feeling. Use any materials you want to make a visual representation of what home means to you.
Projects For Self
Sometimes when we’re experiencing difficult times, we can begin to lose parts of ourselves. These projects will help with self-discovery, and help you connect with your innermost thoughts and feelings.
- Draw Yourself As an Animal: Many cultures use spirit animals as a way of defining themselves and their traits. Try to envision yourself as an animal, and draw it out. Ask yourself what traits that animal has that you connect to, and why you see yourself in them.
- Make Fingerprint Art: There is nothing more unique to who you are than your fingerprint. No two people have the same fingerprint. Use ink or paint to stamp your fingerprints of a canvas, then create a piece of art around them.
- Draw Your Good Traits: Sometimes, when we’re feeling depressed or anxious, we can easily forget all the wonderful things that make up who we are. Think of your favorite things about yourself, then draw or paint them on a canvas. This serves as a physical manifestation of self-love that you can look back on any time you need it.
Art therapy is a powerful tool for expressing difficult emotions, relieving stress and anxiety, and improving overall mental health. Under the guidance of an art therapist, engaging in it can improve the symptoms of a whole host of mental and physical illnesses. If you don’t have access to an art therapist, there are so many projects you can do right from home to help boost your mood, express your emotions, and aid in self discovery.
Make sure to check our website and shop our custom paint by numbers kits! They’re relaxing, fun, and can be completed by anybody, regardless of skill level. They also work wonderfully as an art therapy tool to help cope with stress and anxiety.