Art therapy has the power to relax both your mind and body, putting you in a meditative state and allowing you to safely explore your own mind. Because making art makes you feel safe and calm, you are able to go deeper with yourself in the healing process. Many of us frequently put off doing deep inner work because we are scared of facing ourselves. Art therapy helps us integrate both the left and right sides of the brain and helps us calmly access the subconscious mind, making it easier for us to examine our trauma and release what holds us back. Here are a few art therapy activities that will help you get started on your journey:
Pick colors that make you feel positive and paint using repetitive motions, covering the entire paper with these strokes. Then, use a different color and pattern to paint over the first layer. What makes this technique meditative is the repetitive movement and the layering because you are able to intuitively and spontaneously create whatever you feel in that moment. It doesn’t matter what it looks like, it matters that you are able to find peace in the moment, noticing the feeling of the brush strokes on paper, the smell of the paint, and envisioning the bright, beautiful colors and patterns.
Finger painting art therapy
Why did we ever stop finger painting?. t’s so easy to connect with your creative inner child when you playfully dip your finger in paint and allow yourself to revel in the sensation of gliding the paint on paper, moving it wherever it wants to go, no expectations, no purpose, just to play and explore. With finger painting, it’s not about the finished piece, it’s about the creative process. It’s about the calming colors you choose and the textures you feel in the moment. Be intuitive with this and see how it feels to use one finger or multiple fingers in your painting process. Just like rhythmic breathing helps you relax while meditating, using repetitive motion to match your heartbeat will put you in a zen state of mind
Art therapy with clay
When we are anxious or stressed, it helps to be able to manipulate materials with your hands. You can use clay or playdough and create your own mini sculptures. Keeping the hands busy and the mind focused on creating a sculpture helps your brain relax. You can even make your own playdough and clay as part of the creative process. Mix together 1 cup of flour, ½ cup of salt, 1 cup of water, and 1 tablespoon of oil in a saucepan on medium heat until it thickens. Then, store it in an airtight container, and voila, you have actual playdough! The full recipe is here. Creating the playdough and then making a sculpture out of it will give you a sense of mastery, which is important when taking care of yourself and healing your mind.
Create a Fragments Box
Gretchen Miller, MA, ATR-BC came up with this idea, and it’s a fantastic way for you to get a better understanding of who you are, who you want to be, and find that sense of wholeness and authenticity. She painted a box to represent herself, which holds all of her fragments. These fragments are little tiles that have been embellished with paper. On these tiles, she writes what the different pieces of her are, such as “Strength”, “Calmness,” “Insight”, etc. This is helpful in healing yourself because it allows you to find your authentic self and who you know you can be. “Developing and containing these fragments through this process reminded me (again) of my core intentions, purpose, and helped “untangle” most of the “thought knots”, as well as put back and contain all the little pieces of me that were scattered everywhere and ought to be paid attention to for continued creativity, energy, and collaboration.”
Read last week’s article, “How to Stop Negative Thinking” here!
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Alli Cravener is a social media coordinator and writer who is passionate about connecting people through words. Alli studied English at Arizona State University and has found her niche uniting concept and content in the realm of mental health and the expressive arts. Alli’s interests include painting, history, learning about other people, and wearing the color pink. She likens herself to a “mouse in a palm tree”, and she loves it that way.