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Color Outside of the Lines

A guide to using art as therapy.

Art is a fantastic coping mechanism and tool for emotional healing, wellness, self-care, stress relief and therapeutic creative expression—particularly during these post-pandemic times.
    Making art aids in healthy mindful communication and expression of feelings and emotions—such as grief, depression and trauma … what we’ve all been experiencing in recent years. It is a fantastic mindful coping mechanism, helps healing and brings more clarity. 
    There are many beneficial creative ways to utilize art in our daily lives to practice healthy expression.
    There is a strong connection between the arts and mental health (including self-care, wellness, self-love, mindfulness, attention, creativity and even improved cognition) and overall well-being.
    Therapeutic art provides a way to gain insight and understanding through self-expression. Art especially helps when words alone do not (with feelings, thoughts and emotions).
    The creative process can help you identify and express those deep and difficult anxious feelings that we all feel sometimes. The process of creating art can be very calming and brings more self-awareness, which helps soothe stress, nervousness, and irritability.
    Creating art actively helps you visually express and record experiences, perceptions, feelings, and imagination all while enhancing your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Expression through art can help you gain insight, self-awareness, and it can even rejuvenate your capabilities to resolve and reconcile conflicts and problems.
    Art making can help facilitate change. The art assists with developing interpersonal, physical, cognitive, emotional, and social skills for healthy communication.
    Art as self-care aids in increasing self-esteem/self-love/confidence and self-expression. Art is a healthy and fun coping mechanism. It helps people explore self-expression, such as new creative ways to gain personal insight and develop new coping skills.
    The act of creating art calms the nervous system, promotes mindfulness, focus (reduction of over stimulation from outside sources), and the sense of accomplishment from creating a piece of art. Art exploration can aid in reducing anxiety by encouraging expression of feelings, problem solving and goal setting, which aids in working towards improved thinking patterns. Art is especially helpful when verbal expression is limited.
    Art is an encouraging playful form or expression, which is especially great for kids. However, art is beneficial for all ages. It can be beneficial for anxiety reduction and would especially be beneficial at this time and start of this new year for children, teens, and families.
    Some uplifting helpful art activities that are helpful particularly in regards to anxiety reduction are painting, crafting and clay. Also, creating a Vision collage can be helpful in setting goals especially to aid with the anxiety that may come with the new year and healing from the pandemic). You may also try creating a Gratitude Journal, which focuses on things you are grateful for (this can also help reduce anxiety). Affirmation art (ex: reflect on affirmations to help cope with anxious feelings) and Mandala art (creating patterns in a mindful and meditative manner helps reduce heightened emotions).Expressive abstract art and emotion wheel/color therapy (a mind body connection) are also helpful art activities which aid in anxiety. There is much to discover from the therapeutic world of art!
    Everyone is a creative expressive artist and it’s the process, not the product that matters most. Art can help everyone.  

Diana Shabtai, Psy.D., ATR-BC. is a contributing writer to Kiddish Magazine.



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