Remember how much fun you had as a child whenever you drew with crayons or painted with your fingers? You may not have known it then, but the simple process of creating art helped you relax. Now that you’re an adult, it doesn’t mean you have to throw out the crayons. Getting in touch with your creative side may help you reduce stress and live longer, and you’ll have something to show for it.
While there are strong advantages to working with a credentialed art therapist, it still may be therapeutic for you to create art on your own. In an article for About.com, stress management expert Elizabeth Scott, M.S., states that three benefits of creating art are distraction (from whatever is stressing you), flow (being completely immersed in an activity to the point of being in a near meditative state) and self care (devoting time to yourself and your happiness). Because art can help reduce stress, it may have some health benefits, too. Research suggests that decreasing stress may also decrease your blood pressure and risk of heart disease.
You may be thinking that art can’t help you because your artistic abilities aren’t up to snuff. But art can help all kinds of people — you don’t have to be a talented artist to experience its benefits, and there are many different types of art to explore that are suited to your ability level.
Therapeutic Art Ideas to Try At Home
- Coloring Books for Adults: These are extremely popular right now. Because coloring is a relaxing activity, it helps lower your blood pressure and alleviate anxiety. Two bestsellers are “Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book” by Johanna Basford and “Color Me Calm: 100 Coloring Templates for Meditation and Relaxation (A Zen Coloring Book)” by Lacy Mucklow.
- Visual Journal: Try imagining what your feelings look like and draw them. Cut out inspiring images or words from magazines and paste them in your journal, or use your own ideas to personalize it. The sky is the limit.
- Found Poetry: The Found Poetry Review put it best: “Found poetry is the literary version of a collage.” Cut out words and phrases from magazines and newspapers, and arrange them into your own poem, or make refrigerator poetry with a magnetic poetry kit.
There are many different types of art to explore that are suited to your ability level.
If you think your stress may require professional help, you can find an art therapist through the American Art Therapy Association’s Art Therapy Locator, www.find-a-therapist.com or your local chapter of the American Art Therapy Association.