It is not unknown that art has stress relieving effects, but most adults still shy away from practising many art forms. They either think of art as a practice better suited for kids, or are just too busy to take time out for it.
However, now that people have started taking mental health seriously, art is finding its way back into their routines as a therapeutic practice. Art is now being used professionally to treat people struggling with mental illnesses. It is also a great way to de-stress and can keep you mentally healthy. Moreover, it is something that might bring back childhood memories which is bound to make you happier. It will also help you to relax and express any of your pent up emotions.
The only thing that is holding us back is the stigma around practising art as an adult.
Amongst many other stigmas in society, this one also really needs to be done with. If as working adults, we can take time out every single day to go the the gym, jog around the park or do hardcore workouts to be physically healthy, then we can definitely take some time out for our own mental well being as well.
Why don’t we start today, with just a few things that we already have, and give about 20 minutes everyday to see the difference.
Remember, all of the activities mentioned below require almost no artistic abilities, and the goal is relieving stress, not making an instagram worthy masterpiece. So do not worry about perfecting the art, go with the flow and make a mess if you feel like it.
Here is a list of 6 stress relieving art therapy activities that you can try at home today :-
1. Zentangle art-
For those of you who don’t know, zentangles were designed to be a meditative art form. They comprise of small repetitive patterns which are used to fill up a larger space.
All you need is a piece of paper and a pen. Now draw any shape you like on it,a rectangle, a square, a circle, a star or even a combination of these. Next, fill up those spaces in and out of the boundary of these shapes with small repetitive patterns.
Experiment with triangles, lines, waves, sea shells , circles , spirals and everything else you would fancy.
While you continuously draw these patterns, it would grab all of your attention and would serve as a good distraction from the negative thoughts at the end of the day. At last, you would have a page full of art and a mind, less stressed.
2. Mandala art –
It would be a sin if we do not include making mandalas in a list of therapeutic activities.
Mandalas are ancient religious symbols, which have high value in Buddhism, Hinduism , Islam and many other religions. It is a very widely practiced art form across the world, and one of the most calming and stress relieving one at that.
Mandalas basically comprise of intricate designs made in and around concentric circles. Mandalas may not look anything like the universe but represent it in all ways. The circles are used because they represent the universe in not having a beginning or an end. The intricate details and designs inside of it shows its vast capacity.
Even though you would need a lot of practice and tutoring to learn how to make a good mandala, but you can always make one for healing. It’s the process that matters , not the outcome.
You will need a pen or two, a pencil, a paper and a compass or anything to make circles (if you are not willing to freehand it ). All you need to do is draw concentric circles and start filling in patterns inside it.
You can start by drawing a small flower at the centre and work your way up. You can even incorporate the zentangles, if you would like to.
Of course you can google some images for reference, but your mandala does not need to be in any way similar to those you find online. Just start drawing, and make it your own way.
3. Watercolour –
It is impossible to even stress upon how satisfying it is to just look at a painting being made, and making one is even more of an overwhelming experience.
If you don’t have any watercolours, just go and buy an inexpensive set, or grab your childrens paint box, or borrow from someone you know. The other thing you need is a brush which you would get with the set, and some paper. Just make sure the paper is watercolor paper or is at least thick enough to not let the paint leak through. The last thing you will need, is some water.
That is it, get watercolouring. You don’t even have to make it look like something, if you don’t want to. You can just put some plain water on the paper with the help of a brush, then add some colour to the wet area and just enjoy looking at the colours. Try mixing different colors and blending them. If the colours bleed, let them, you don’t have to have complete control.
As long as you enjoy playing with these colours, play with them however you wish to. It is incredibly stress relieving and enjoyable. Also, it requires a lot less patience than the previous two methods. (If you are doing it just for fun)
4. Art journal/ collage art –
This one is for those of you who aren’t comfortable drawing at all. All you need is an old diary/ scrapbook/ journal or even a notebook, some glue , some old magazines, newspapers, Polaroid pictures and a pair of scissors.
Cut out and collect all your favorite articles from the paper or magazine , or pictures of a celebrity you admire , your old Polaroid pictures , or anything memorable. Arrange them in an order you like and stick then on to your journal or scrapbook.
You can add some crochet lace, little hand written notes, buttons, ribbons and every other miscellaneous item you can think to decorate your journal with.
This is a fun activity, which will help in stress relieving and also in preserving your memories. It is one of the easiest ways of creating something while enjoying the process, so just get started.
5. Doodle –
To doodle means to draw lines, patterns or even caricatures without giving it a thought. This is something we all have done during those boring lectures, office meetings or those extremely long phone conversations.
This again is extremely stress relieving and easy. Even the haters of art have done it at some point in life. You don’t need anything else other than a pen or pencil and a paper.
It does not even take up a lot of time, it is super easy and quick. You can make doodles of your food while you wait for your food, or even during those boring lectures and conferences. It can mean absolutely nothing, or can narrate a story. Try making a doodle of the man/woman giving the speech in your private diary the next time you are stuck at a boring conference. It does not have to be perfect , it just has to cheer you up.
It is so much better than checking social media handles for fun.
6. Adult colouring books –
For those of you who just love to colour, this one is for you.
They have been in the market for quite a while and are supposed to be quite helpful in destressing.
These have super intricate pre-made designs, and you need to carefully colour them in. You can use pencil colours, sharpies or any other type of colors you want to use.
Just using different colours and putting in so much concentration into this can be rewarding.
These adult coloring books are working well as a stress relieving art book, and if you are willing to take up colouring as your art therapy, you should surely give it a try.
Here is pocket size one suitable for beginners- https://amzn.to/2jWusiL
Disclaimer – all of the activities mentioned above are personal suggestions. Do not consider them as professional advice. Please seek professional help if you need it.