Art therapy is something entirely different than craft time with the kids.
If you’re like me, then supervising a craft with the kids normally consists of a lot of mess and frustration. But ultimately, they LOVE doing it, and that’s why we put up with it. Kids are happiest when they have a chance to be creative, get messy and use their imaginations. And it’s time that moms take a lesson from the kids.
Art therapy is a form of therapy which incorporates the visual arts such as painting, drawing, sculpting and so much more. Formal art therapy is done with a licensed therapist who would guide you through the process and help you to open up suppressed feelings and emotions.
But you don’t need a professional to reap the benefits of art therapy. Simply picking up a paintbrush and letting your imagination go wild can be one of the best forms of self care.
Here are some of the benefits of art therapy.
Putting a paintbrush to canvas is a great way to relieve stress and tension. Create something abstract by using big, bold strokes and don’t worry about making a mess or staying in the lines. You can even go so far as to use your fingers, hands or even your feet to create art. Involve your entire body in your movements and let the stress melt away.
Meticulous movements also have a way of releasing stress and tension. When life feels hectic and out of control, keeping within the fine lines of a paint by numbers canvas or detailed coloring book can give us a sense of empowerment and control.
The ability to create something beautiful gives us a confidence boost like no other. Plus, successfully completing a project does wonders for our mental health. It makes us feel capable and proud and as though we can tackle anything.
While some art forms take years of practice to master, beginners can still create masterpieces. A paint by numbers canvas is a great option for the beginner artist who wants to create something that looks professional but lacks the skills. The fine details are a great way to relieve stress and taking some time each day to work on it can easily be fit into your self care routine.
Distracts the Mind
Activities that distract the mind are great for those who are suffering from anxiety or depression. Similar to watching television, playing a video game or listening to music, art therapy focuses our minds on something other than negative or intrusive thoughts. This is a welcome distraction before bedtime if you’re battling insomnia or on especially bad mental health days.
Opens up Emotions
Formal art therapy is used to help patients open up suppressed emotions or memories that they need to deal with. So it’s no surprise that allowing ourselves to open up our creative side also lets out a flood of emotions. When you feel sad or angry, worried or stressed, try expressing those emotions using an art form such as painting or drawing. Doing something creative can actually increase our dopamine levels, which makes us feel happier.
Express Yourself Without Words
Unless you’re an accomplished writer, words are often a difficult medium for expressing yourself. When we feel something, we picture it in our heads and then try to describe that picture to someone else. Instead of simply describing it, draw or paint it out. Close your eyes and imagine it. If it was in a dream, then do it as soon as you wake up so you don’t forget.
This is a great art therapy practice for those suffering from scary and intrusive thoughts who might be too afraid to explain them out loud. It’s up to you whether or not you want to show it to someone, but getting it out of your head and onto paper or canvas can help you release them and feel better.
Taps into the Subconscious
The thoughts and images in our subconscious have a strong effect on our conscious minds. Most people seek therapy in order to tap into that subconscious mind to find out what is hidden in there. Art therapy can work in the same way.
Try splattering some paint on canvas or scribbling something with a pencil and then imagining what you see in it. Create something without thinking too hard about what it is and watch what happens. Our subconscious minds can leave us clues through another medium such as art.
Art therapy is not for everyone, but those looking for an outlet for stress or anger should definitely give it a try. Find a peaceful location and allow yourself enough time to access your creative side. You can even try a group art therapy class which will encourage you to socialize with others. A family or friends paint night can have a similar effect. And most importantly, whatever you create, show it off. Hang it up in your home, sell it on Etsy or share pictures online. Be proud of what you’ve accomplished and who knows, it might be worth something one day…