Art Therapy Activities for Adults
Did you know that art therapy can mean two things?
It can mean using art activities to relax and reduce anxiety. Or it can mean the process that art therapists or psychotherapists use to communicate with clients during therapy through art.
Art therapy with a professional may be helpful if you have trouble expressing yourself due to social anxiety.
It gives you a creative outlet in a non-threatening context.
If trauma or neglect is underlying your social anxiety, art therapy may help you begin to open up to a therapist.
Sharing past experiences and learning to cope with them may be a starting point to work on negative thinking patterns.
Art therapy is different from cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT 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. This can help you create 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.
You can practice “art as therapy” on your own.
But, 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 Youtube video below from Board Certified Art Therapist Pamela Maloff Hayes helping her client with panic attacks. To visit her channel and watch more videos, click on the top left corner of the video below).
Art therapy is practiced by a professional. But, it’s possible to borrow ideas from art therapy to practice your own art activities at home.
Are you prone to overthinking?
Engaging in art activities could be helpful 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.
Saving on Art Supplies
Before you start shopping for art projects and supplies, make sure you are signed up for Rakuten!
Rakuten is a company that gives you cashback when you shop at all your favorite stores. All you need to do is go to the Rakuten site first to click through and shop.
Until March 31st, you will receive $20 for FREE when you join and spend $20 in the next 90 days.
Why say no to free money if you will be shopping for art supplies anyway? You could put that extra $20 towards even more art supplies!
Make sure that you use this link to join and receive your $20 bonus. Then, remind yourself to go to Rakuten first before you shop online to make sure you receive credit for your bonus.
If you’d like t learn more about how Rakuten works, I have a whole post about Rakuten that you can read here!
Art Therapy Activities Supplies
If you aren’t sure where to start getting stocked up on art therapy supplies, you’ll want to know about this option! These make great gifts too.
Books About Art Therapy
If you are simply looking for more information about art therapy for anxiety, you NEED to get one of these books on the topic!
- Essential Art Therapy Exercises: Effective Techniques to Manage Anxiety, Depression, and PTSD
- Art Therapy for Anxiety and Depression
- 250 Brief, Creative & Practical Art Therapy Techniques: A Guide for Clinicians and Clients
Are you interested in doing art for anxiety but don’t know where to start? Or would you like to send the gift of art supplies to a friend or family member?
If so, you might be interested in a subscription art box from Cratejoy. You can purchase subscription boxes on a monthly plan or annual plan. There are lots to choose from! Which of these would you choose?
- Your Paint Box (Monthly Oil Painting Lessons geared for Beginners)
- Art Crate (Delivering personally curated, hand-selected prints from around the world!)
- Fearless Nail Art (Because fearless self care shouldn’t be difficult)
- Paletteful Packs (Everything you need to create a work of art!)
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.
Second, once your vision board is created, it will serve as a reminder of your hope for the future.
- Vision Board Starter Pack – My Life Map Printable, Dream Board, Treasure Map, Manifest, Law of Attraction (Instant Download)
- #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?
- Blank Plain Mailable 5×7 Postcards
- Avery Printable Postcards
- Set of 12 Blank Vintage Postcard Backs (Digital Download)
Painting is in some ways like meditating. It’s a way to calm your 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 experience.
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).
If you’re not very artistic, a paint-by-number kit could give you the experience of painting, without having to worry about 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
- Houseplant Paint by Number Set
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.
- Carving Faces Workbook
- The Ultimate Guide to Sea Glass
- Turtle & Orca Soapstone Carving and Whittling Craft Kit
This idea is fun because it combines art and humor. It could be especially good if you have teenagers with anxiety who need an outlet.
Purchase this blank comic book and create a comic strip to 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 purchase a miniature sand garden for your desk and make designs whenever you feel anxious. Or, plan a trip to the beach!
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. Use art journal prompts to stimulate ideas for your art journal.
Or, purchase one of the pre-made journals below to boost your creativity.
- 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!
Related: 25 Art Journal Prompts for Anxiety
I created a series of gratitude worksheets that act as a form of art therapy while you practice gratitude. See what color combinations you can come up with to create unique masterpieces each time.
The best part? These are digital downloads that you can print right away. You can read more about how I created them in this post.
- Christmas-themed sunburst gratitude worksheet
- Pack of 12 Rainbow-themed gratitude worksheets
- Original sunburst gratitude worksheet
Therapy for Anxiety
What if you want to receive therapy for anxiety from a licensed therapist? Beyond looking for a local certified art therapist, you could also consider online therapy for anxiety.
Online therapists utilize a variety of treatment methods. Betterhelp is one option for online therapy that offers sessions at an affordable monthly cost.
Most importantly, as you engage in art therapy 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
- The Best Mindfulness Coloring Sheets for Anxiety
- 65+ Gifts for People with Anxiety
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Art Therapy for Anxiety: Self-Help Ideas
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