• Diana Zhang

5 Ways to Reduce Anxiety Using Art Therapy

Welcome to Expressive-heART (Creative Therapy 4 Kids).


Art therapy can be used for one to creatively express their thoughts and feelings. In many cases, it can help to overcome difficulties associated with expressing using speech or writing.


Below are 5 simple activities that you, or someone you know, can try to help reduce anxiety.




1. Expressing Anxiety on a Piece of Paper


This activity can be done whenever you feel anxious, and it requires nothing but a piece of blank paper and any art materials you wish. You can use painter’s tape to tape the paper to your surface as well.







  • Start by closing your eyes and make an observation of how the anxiety feels as well as where in your body it is felt.

  • Next, pick up an art utensil and close your eyes once again. Without lifting the utensil from the piece of paper, attempt to illustrate the anxiety’s presence in a continuous line, almost as if it were trying to express itself on the page.

  • From there, you can use more materials and develop a clearer image of what the anxiety looks like.

  • After you are satisfied with the image, you can also free-write for a few minutes after. Topics include the process of creating the image, eg. why you chose specific colours to illustrate your anxiety, or you can speak to the anxiety itself by asking some questions.

2. Calmness & Safety Collage


This activity can be used to remind you of a safe haven - potentially comforting you as you create it, or if you choose to look back on it in the future.








  • Pick out some magazines and gather some photos alongside a blank piece of paper.

  • Flip through the magazines and cut out any photos that provide a happy memory or give you some sort of comfort.

  • Glue all of the cut outs to the piece of paper in order to create a calmness collage.


3. Self-Care Safety Kit


In troublesome times, it can sometimes be useful to have as many comforting items as possible in one location within reach. Creating a self-care box that is tailored to your needs is simple, yet can be extremely effective in reducing anxiety.





  • If you wish to make the box more aesthetically pleasing, you can decorate a cardboard box any way you choose, although it can help to include some calming and motivational words.

  • Gather and/or create some items that you feel would be able to provide comfort and place them in the box. Some examples can include: photos of family and friends, a treasured souvenir, anything memorable of a happy time, motivational popsicle sticks (write motivational notes to yourself on popsicle sticks and bundle them using an elastic), a stress ball/toy, etc. You can even include something for pampering, for instance a face mask or a spa massage.


4. Mindfulness Beads


The self-care safety kit can be stored at home, but if you are feeling anxious outside, you can keep a small chain of beads and carry it around easily.








  • Take a trip to your local craft store and pick out some beads that attract you.

  • Attach the beads one by one onto a string.

  • Close off the string, ensuring that the beads have no way to fall off the ends.

Whenever you feel the need to focus on something relaxing, you can pull out the beads and reflect on how they feel in your hands. It can be helpful to assign each one of your beads with something to fixate on, for example each bead can remind you of a happy memory.


5. Lighthouse Art


If you feel like you are lost/isolated, this activity can help to remind you of guidance using a lighthouse as a metaphor.













  • Paint/draw a lighthouse on a black of piece of paper and envision yourself being lost at sea.

  • You can then add any pictures or words in the light that is shining from the lighthouse to symbolize the guidance that is in your life.

Expressing your feelings and being able to recognize hope in reducing your anxiety can be therapeutic.


And there you go, these are just 5 of the countless ways that art therapy can help to reduce your anxiety. It can also be extremely beneficial if you go see an art therapist, a trained professional, who can aid you even further. Stay tuned for more blog posts like this at Expressive-heART!


References:

McCoy, T. (2017, July 12). 15 Art Therapy Activities, Exercises & Ideas for Children and

Adults [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://positivepsychology.com/art-therapy/


Tartakovsky, M. (2018, July 8). 3 Art Therapy Techniques to Deal with Anxiety [Blog post].

Retrieved from

https://psychcentral.com/blog/3-art-therapy-techniques-to-deal-with-anxiety/

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Corene Jonat, RP,  EXAT, Psychotherapist, Arts Therapist

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