Self-Help Art Activities for Anxiety
Did you know that art therapy can mean two things? It can either mean using art activities to relax and reduce anxiety, or the process that art therapists or psychotherapists use to communicate with clientsduring therapy through art.
Art therapy with a professional may be helpful if you have trouble expressing yourself due to social anxiety, as it gives you a creative outlet in a non-threatening context.
In cases where trauma or neglect is underlying the development of social anxiety, art therapy may be helpful for you to begin to open up to a therapist.
Being able to share past experiences and learn how to cope with them may be a starting point within psychotherapy to work on negative thinking patterns.
Different from cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which requires you to be able to communicate with your therapist from the start, art therapy doesn’t require anything of you in terms of communication.
Art therapy is also often practiced in a group setting, which can help in creating connections with other people, building social skills, and raising self-esteem.
Critiquing each other’s work can also help you improve communication skills and overcome the fear of being judged. In this way, art therapy could almost be a type of exposure therapy.
While you can use “art as therapy” on your own, if you want to receive “art as psychotherapy,” you’ll need to see a registered professional such as a psychologist, social worker, or art therapist.
But don’t let that dissuade you from doing art activities on your own to reduce anxiety! In many ways, creating art is like a form of meditation that you should definitely take advantage of. Creating art may help you to relax, reduce stress, and redirect negative thoughts.
(Watch the video below to learn how art therapy is used by a therapist to help her client with panic attacks)
While art therapy is practiced by a professional, it’s possible to borrow ideas from art therapy to practice your own art activities at home. If you are prone to overthinking, engaging in art activities could be helpful for you because they require mindful awareness, or being in the moment. You’re no longer thinking; you’re just doing and expressing yourself.
One way to do this is to keep an art journal and create images based on journal prompts.
Below is a list of simple art activities that you can try out on your own. If you try any of these, feel free to share how it worked out for you in the comments.
Creating a vision board of the future that you’d like to have will help you in two ways. First, engaging in the process of the vision board will help to shift your focus away from anxious thoughts. And second, once your vision board is created, it will serve as a reminder of your hope for the future.
- #FutureBoards: Learn How to Create a Vision Board to Get Exactly the Life You Want
- The Complete Guide to Vision Boards
If you live with social anxiety, designing a postcard for someone can be a therapeutic art exercise. Think of it this way—a postcard is much less demanding than writing a letter (although I’m sure many of your older relatives would love to receive one of those!). In fact, I’m considering having my children use handmade postcards as thank you notes this year. Why not create a postcard to brighten someone’s day and also help you focus and feel less anxious?
Painting is in some ways like meditating; it’s a way to calm the mind and soothe worry. It can also be turned into a social experience if you do it with other people, such as by taking an art class or attending a paint night exeprience. You could also just dabble at home by painting an abstract to express how you are feeling in the moment (try putting on some music that you like to get your creative juices flowing). And if you’re just not very artistic-minded, a paint-by-number kit will give you the same experience of painting, without having to focus too much on what the end product will look like.
- Warm Sunflower Paint by Number Kit
- Four Season Tree of Life Oil Painting Kit
- Eiffel Tower Paint by Number Kit
Carving & Stone
Are you looking for a unique art experience? You might want to try your hand at carving or working with stone or sea glass. Trying out different projects like this can be a good option if you’ve tried other art activities but felt uninspired.
This idea is fun because it combines art + humor, and could be especially good if you have teenagers with anxiety who need an outlet. Purchase this blank comic book and start creating a comic strip to help relieve stress and add some levity to your art therapy.
What could be more zen and relaxing than creating designs in the sand? You could either purchase a miniature sand garden for your desk and make designs whenever you feel anxious, or plan a trip to the beach where you actually go full out and make an intricate sand design and take a photo to remember it (see the link below for inspiration).
- Zen Garden Meditation Rock and Sand Garden
- At the beach, create a design in the sand.
- Create an outdoor garden as an artistic project.
Coloring Books for Adults
If you enjoyed coloring as a child, an adult coloring book could be a good choice as a therapeutic art activity. I love bringing along a small coloring book or a few pages on a vacation or holiday to help me slow down and relax.
- Ugh, I Can’t Even Coloring Book
- You Are F*cking Awesome Swear Word Coloring Book
- Butterfly Garden Coloring Book
- Good Vibes Coloring Book
Art journaling is a method of expressing yourself and your emotions through art. You can use art journal prompts to stimulate ideas for your art journal, or purchase one of the pre-made journals below to boost your creativitiy.
- Journal Sparks: Fire Up Your Creativity with Spontaneous Art, Wild Writing, and Inventive Thinking
- No Excuses Art Journaling: Making Time for Creativity
- Draw Your Day: An Inspiring Guide to Keeping a Sketch Journal
- Anyone Can Learn Watercolor Journaling – Yes, You!
Most importantly, as you engage in these activities, don’t judge what you are doing. The process is what is important, not the end product. Try to lose yourself in the process of creating and allow your mind to become still.
Related Articles About Art Therapy for Anxiety
- 30 Art Journal Prompts for Social Anxiety
- How to Create a Mental Health Bullet Journal
- How to Use a Sunburst Gratitude Worksheet