Self-Help Art Activities for Anxiety
There are two definitions of art therapy.
“Art as therapy” refers to the process of creating art as being therapeutic and a source of growth.
On the other hand, “art in psychotherapy” refers to the use of art during the psychotherapy process to communicate between a therapist and client.
Those who use “art as therapy” can be art teachers, while those who practice “art as psychotherapy” will usually be a registered helping professional such as a psychologist or social worker.
Art Therapy for Social Anxiety
Art therapy 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.
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.
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.
Finally, creating art may help you to relax, reduce stress, and redirect negative thoughts. 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.
(Watch the video below to learn how art therapy is used by a therapist to help her client with panic attacks)
Self-Help Art Therapy Ideas
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.
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.
- Paint an abstract that expresses how you are feeling in the moment. Put on music as you paint.
- Keep an art journal to visually express your feelings.
- Use art journal prompts to stimulate your activities.
- Draw or color a mandala as a meditation exercise. This mandala coloring book will help you ease stress and clear your mind.
- Complete a paint-by-number project.
- Sit in a park with a sketchbook and draw.
- Take photographs of things that you find beautiful.
- Create art for the important people in your life.
- Create a comic strip about a funny moment in your life.
- Design a hand-drawn or digital postcard for someone.
- Make a collage of your perfect day or vision board of the future you want.
- Create a keychain with an inspirational word.
- Create a sculpture.
- Join an art club or class, or sign up for a paint nite experience.
- At the beach, create a design in the sand.
- Create an outdoor garden as an artistic project.
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.
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