Art Therapy for All: How to Relax Through Making Art

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Relaxation through art making

Relax Through Making Art

We know we’re supposed to schedule (and enforce) down time in our lives. We know that feeling of stress creeping up the backs of our throats and into our brains. We wave it away as we get that one last load of laundry done, grab our kid another snack, sneak in a phone call to our dad while we shoot down to the store for groceries, answer just a few emails before bed, and then. It’s over.

The day is over and we have blasted through it, reacting, jumping around, checking things off some random, EXTREMELY IMPORTANT LIST. And we’re still stressed. We’re tired. We’re promising ourselves we will carve out some time tomorrow night to relax.

I feel like I had this really black and white notion of what relaxing and self-care even was for a long time. It had to be a perfectly timed bath, a soothing massage, popping in a movie and staring at it without moving a muscle.

The problem is, I hate baths and massages, and there is no way in hell I can watch a movie without my kids interrupting me and the dog needing to go outside 5 times.

I started paying attention to what soothes my weary soul that I was already naturally doing sometimes, and when I paid attention, I discovered a lot of things I really love to do (and therefore relax me), without feeling like I needed to subscribe to the common notions of what is supposed to relax us.

My list includes (but is not limited to):

  • Long, random drives where I don’t know where I’m going and can let my mind wander
  • Walking and/or running
  • Baking cookies
  • Drawing
  • Reading

Pretty straightforward stuff, huh? It’s amazing how these simple activities can calm me right back down into the person I enjoy being.

Let’s talk about how art can be relaxing, so you can use it as a tool to help you calm down, re-center, and give your brain a little break.

Art is Relaxing

Art can be extremely stressful or extremely relaxing, depending on how you approach it. You may think that just because you haven’t drawn anything more than a terrible map on a napkin since middle school that you are a “terrible artist”. You are not. You just need a little bit of direction to get started, and you need to banish the thought that you need to sit and paint a fabulous portrait of someone.

You basically need access to some basic art supplies, the ability to read some easy directions, and you’ll be off to relaxation station. I hope that’s really a place.

Most of the art projects I have published on my blog are easy, and so many of the kid projects I have written are actually fun for adults, too, because I need to be having fun when I’m making these projects or I’ll get angry and punch a wall. Or eat a pint of ice cream. Or stare vacantly.

Here are some ideas for you to relax through making art and have fun at the same time.

Tangle doodling
Play with watercolor
Coloring pages
My new book – written precisely with your relaxation in mind. True story.
Painting with crayons
Writing and filling in the closed areas of the letters -I do this every time I make a list or jot down something I want to remember. It’s a little bit of a compulsion, but it’s so satisfying and you can use different colors!
Marker or paint dipped corners of folded paper
Cutting snowflakes or other shapes – Möbius strips, etc
Knitting
Making clay worlds/tablescapes
Weaving
This fun and awesome drawing activity
Black out poetry

coloring in closed areas of letters

This should give you a good start in learning to make art for fun and relaxation.

My newest book, Draw Your Own Damn Coloring Book, was written with this whole idea in mind. I wanted to give people a way to relax through creativity and drawing and coloring, but in a way that was a tad more interesting than just coloring in a pre-drawn page. Here’s more info about it!

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1 Comment

  1. Cyndy R
    11/13/2018 / 7:46 pm

    “Long, random drives where I don’t know where I’m going and can let my mind wander
    Walking and/or running
    Baking cookies
    Drawing
    Reading”
    These all work for me…add in baking bread and knitting and embroidery. I have noticed that some artistic things relax me and some stress me out because I tend to put pressure on myself to “do something good”. Knitting dishcloths or purses, which are simple patterns are really good. Makes me feel productive without having to be a good artist. Reading takes me away and out of myself which is so wonderful. Cooking and baking are wonderfully creative things that relax me as long as I don’t try to do too much and make too many dirty dishes. Exercise is a must for me. I get on my incline treadmill everyday and do floor work for toning and flexibility. Then I get out and climb mountains with my husband peridodically, especially when I get to feeling crazy stressed. This is all easier now though because my youngest kid is 11 now. I was a big ball of stress for years when they were small and I put so much pressure on myself. Why?!?!?!?! I need more than one life to figure this shit out. Oh, and going to the beach and just sitting and staring at the ocean is so relaxing. I don’t do that one enough. The beach is only 40 min. away from me. But just not on a weekend cause the traffic is insane!

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