Art Therapy: 6 Creative Activities that Can Relieve Your Stress and Anxiety

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Do you struggle with stress and anxiety? Check out these 6 creative activities that help!

Participating in artistic activities is about more than creating a finished product; it's about the process. It's during this period that people find themselves able to let go of stressors and find their flow state— total immersion and captivation in an activity.

Many knowledgeable therapists and mental health practitioners recommend art therapy for treating stress and anxiety. Here are a few artistic activities to try to find your flow and let go of troubling thoughts.

Play with Clay

The overarching benefit of clay as a medium is that it's incredibly tactile. There's also a symbolic aspect to clay work. If you don't like how something is going, you can reshape your clay and try again; the same applies to life.

There are endless options and inspiration points for polymer clay crafts or pottery work. Find a source of inspiration that speaks to you, or take an unstructured approach to see where your imagination takes you.

Paint in Abstract

Painting is an incredibly emotive art medium. Abstract painting works particularly well in art therapy, as there are no rules or feelings of what your piece "should" look like. You can also use your abstract painting to paint your feelings, choosing colors that represent your emotional experience. What color is your stress? Your anger? Your sadness? Your anxiety?

Consider investing in a large canvas for this activity. Painting a large canvas also incorporates bodily movement to release endorphins and increase the stress-relieving benefits of this exercise.

Decorate a Journal Cover

Journalling is another therapeutic practice prescribed by therapists and other mental health professionals. You can also use your journal as a blank canvas for your art and create a cover that sets the tone for your healing journey.

Pick up a blank journal or composition book and use markers, paint, fabric, or other materials to create a custom cover. Turn on some music and lose yourself in this activity. You can also use these elements throughout your journal as you document your challenges, gratitude, and experiences.

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Try Scribble Drawing

Scribble drawing is an art therapy activity that's accessible to anyone. Many people feel intimidated by the idea of art therapy, particularly if they don't consider themselves creative. With scribble drawing, no creativity is needed.

Take a blank piece of paper and a black marker, then scribble on it in loops, squiggles, and whatever shape feels right. When you're done, grab some colored pencils or markers and color in the scribbles as you choose. You can incorporate words, contrasting colors, or transform shapes into recognizable objects as you see fit— there are no rules.

Create a Vision Board Collage

When dealing with stress and anxiety, the only way out is through. Creating a vision board collage can help you picture what comes next and provide direction for your treatment. Setting short and long-term goals and visualizing your success is a powerful activity.

Start with a piece of poster board or a cork board. Print photos you like, cut clippings from papers and magazines, write affirmations or power words, and create a collage. Put this piece up somewhere visible so you can see it every day.

Create a Miniature

Creating miniatures is a hands-on art activity that's scalable and fun. You can use clay and paint to create your own elements or purchase some as needed. You can even use living plants to create a fairy garden or tiny fantasy world.

Consider recreating a place where you felt safe or happy or a place you hope to visit someday. This project can be as simple or elaborate as you like.

Art is a powerful tool for self-exploration. Consider these art project ideas as inspiration or come up with your own.