Art Therapy for Anxiety and Depression
Art therapy can be an effective tool for relieving anxiety and depression symptoms. It works on people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities and may be used alone or in combination with other forms of therapy.
People suffering from mental health issues often struggle to express their thoughts. Art can provide them with the courage to open up about their struggles and receive valuable support from trusted sources.
Creating art has been linked to a decrease in brain chemicals such as cortisol and stress hormones, as well as an increase in dopamine – a natural feel-good chemical found in the brain which promotes feelings of relaxation. These chemicals may even be beneficial for those suffering from depression since dopamine acts as an agent of happiness and contentment within us.
A study revealed that people who spent 20 minutes drawing or sorting through art prints reported lower levels of anxiety and depression than those who simply looked at the images. This exercise can be done at home on paper or in a sketchbook, or it could be done professionally with a therapist.
Art therapy not only offers relief from symptoms of anxiety and depression, but it can be a fun way to unwind. No artistic ability or experience necessary – art therapy is open to everyone!
If you’re just beginning in art, it may be beneficial to begin with simple doodles or sketches. While they won’t be as complex as drawings or paintings, these simple exercises can serve as a great springboard for your creativity and help get in the habit of meditating with it.
You can choose to do more advanced art exercises that will test your observation and focus. For instance, creating an artwork based on something recent can be as simple as painting a picture of family or friends that have been missing since last time or creating an intricate image from a dream or memory that hasn’t occurred for some time.
Another enjoyable exercise you can try is to select a song lyric, poem or prose passage that resonates with you and respond to it in whatever way feels most natural – whether by making marks on paper with pencils or coloring in colored crayons. You don’t have to use different colors or just one; as long as the chosen object represents an emotion you are experiencing.
Create a visual map of your body that depicts where tension, pain or discomfort exists. This can be especially useful for people who have trouble recognizing their own bodies when anxious or depressed. Spending some time creating this map will allow you to pinpoint exactly where in the body the anxiety is present and provide helpful suggestions on how best to relieve it.