A number of psychologists agree that art helps relieve the mind and acts as an independent form of expressing. But to be honest, not everyone has the skills to produce a masterpiece. But then, aren’t they entitled to make their own art? Termed as Art Therapy, anyone can unclog their head with a pen and paper. Even drawing lines can help one with their mental state, alleviate their disturbance and feel comfortable. You do not necessarily need a trained psychologist in this process; you can help yourself in small steps. This article can help you find ways to begin with the usage of art as a relief process.
Your works do not need to be shown to others; self validate and keep faith. However, you can show them to trusted friends or confidants, as appreciation from an external source can help greatly. You can start off small, and slowly move to more complex ideas.
Here are ways in which art therapy can aid you, and you can use it as an aid.
Perks of Art Therapy
You may be able to sketch the woman sitting in the next table of the cafe in minutes, or you may just be able to draw a stick house by a tree, relief through art comes with just scratching the pen on the paper. Say, what you drew closely resembles a man sitting by a lake, while your friend made a detailed painting of the San Francisco Bay. Yes, the friend is indeed talented but you too should feel good because you have made something; it might not be a successor to Gogh but it’s a part of you, and that’s what matters the most.
Here are ways that Art Therapy helps you.
- As a Distraction: A great way to deal with stress, anxiety, anger, or sadness is to allow something else to occupy your mind. In drawing something, your concentration is heavily directed towards the drawing alone, so it can take your mind off the stressor (the cause of stress). This is a temporary solution to stress, but it clears your head so once you’re done, you can think of solutions to your problem more pragmatically. This is considered the most important advantage of art therapy.
2. The ‘State of Flow’: For many people, especially those going through stress, depressive phase or any mentally disturbed state, starting off the task is the biggest challenge. They may leave a job undone for days, which could have been done in a jiffy. To deal with this trouble, what many term as procrastination, one can take help of art. Starting off a simple drawing leads the person to what psychologists term as flow, a near meditative condition that makes one engrossed in the job. This flow can actually reduce stress and improve performance, and you can move on to the task you had piled up more smoothly. Flow also works in other activities like writing, playing instruments, playing a sport or gardening.
3. Some “Me Time”: In the hubbub of our busy lives burdened with job and family responsibilities, we forget ourselves. But when you sit with a pen and paper, it is your time entirely, moments that you devote to yourself. This is essential as it helps in self-care, and you can also end on a positive note- a painting that you made, whatever it is. If you feel the work is not good enough, take a second and look at what you made. Look back at what you did previously. Most importantly, ponder on the effort you had made to make the piece a complete entity. No matter how many faults it has, you will feel glad that you did it. Tell yourself that it is good, and it is okay even if it’s not the most brilliant piece ever.
It is a part of you, you exploring yourself.
The idea is, shifting your attention to something harmless, as a lot of people resort to addictive materials to cope with stress. Additionally, the product of art therapy is multi-forked. You can arrange your thoughts, focus, ease pain, and can even help you gain confidence. People who resort to self harm, drug abuse, excessive sleep, a state of absolute inaction can come to art seeking refuge. Not only is this a healthy alternative, it ends in benefits that help.
Art therapy can be availed from a professional therapist who will guide you through the process, or you can indulge in it yourself. In the former case, it helps you deal with more serious troubles. The latter, on the other hand, is more personal, and will help you with the most basic problems you face in everyday life. Self expression and creativity are also vital benefits you get from art therapy. Whatever it is, the idea is, you can heal, and art is here to help. It is a friend that will not betray or abandon, or be harsh.
So what can you do?
If you are seeking professional help, then your psychologist can guide you through the process. But to combat everyday stress, anxiety, sadness, tiredness, lack of motivation, lethargy and so on, you can indulge in multiple activities that are a very much a part of art therapy, but easier to do, devoid of the appointments you have to attend in case of having a doctor see you.
Here are multiple ideas that you can start off with.
The trend of sending postcards is gone, but this is a postcard you make for yourself. You don’t need to post this one, just let your creativity flow in your own way. You won’t have the need to impress anyone. Think up an absolutely random idea for the postcard, but you can also intend it for someone. You might not give it to them, or might not be ready to tell them your feelings; just write down honestly what you have going across your mind. You can even theme your postcard accordingly, that way you’ll have an idea to start off with. Design it with whatever you want- simple stick figures or a bunch of flowers, the options are aplenty. Writing the text can even help you alleviate your heavy feelings. No matter what you do with the final product, the process will feel good and come extremely helpful.
Search though various newspapers and magazines to cook up a collage; cut the pieces all out and stick them down to create your own artwork. Or if you don’t have the time or patience, just stick down pieces of newspaper or magazine pages on cardboard, cut them into random pieces, and arrange them the way you want. Who knows, you might come up with something you never expected! If you are not satisfied, you can always rearrange them before finally putting them all in place.
Plan out and decorate a corner of your room, by rearranging some furniture or showpieces, or get some small handmade stuff, perhaps some fairy lights. Arrange them in a way you like, get it right by trial and error. But once it’s done, it will boost your mood; you’ll have a new retouch to your home, adding some freshness. And it comes with all the benefits of art therapy.
Draw in darkness
A lot of times, the most discouragement comes from you yourself. A good way to get rid of it is to draw in a dark room, or with your eyes closed. Make whatever lines come to your mind, even if the final product looks gibberish. For having done it without seeing, you can boast it’s unique and abstract, done in a novel way.
Let it flow
Here is an idea: Try out the various times of the day; for morning, go with shades of yellow, with a dash of orange, and light blue. You can add some light greens too. Move to sunset; use a generous amount of red, yellow and orange. You can let some deep blue and purple play at the top of the page just to add to the effect. And finally, nigh time, composed with dark shades of blue and purple, highlighted with blacks. If you feel experimental, you can even drop a few jots of red. To make it even more striking, sprinkle some white paint once the painting is dry, and you have a representation of the galactic night sky.
Have you noticed how water colour spreading out on wet paper feels so satisfying? Well, you can do it yourself, in whatever ways you want. Just run a wet brush, no paint, on the paper, then drop some paint or run the brush lightly. Let the paints flow in any direction, mix with each other, bleed. If you want, choose a theme for your colour combination. The result can be mesmerising, besides the process.
Decorate a page of your diary
A lot of people resort to diary writing. However you can give it a twist. Take any medium, say sketch pens, and draw random designs or doodles on the page. Write a quote or simply a few lines. You can even write about how you feel. This essentially is like making a postcard, but devoid of the receiver.
If you do not find the time to sit with a pen and paper, then carry around a sketchbook and a pen of any colour. It doesn’t need to be a very decorative sketchbook, but you can get it out in-between work hours or just before going to bed, in the gap between your cooking routine or while sitting in the cafeteria. Pen down whatever you want. At the end of the day, look back through the pages. You can feel the therapeutic effect of art, firsthand.
The most recurring problem one faces is overcoming the disappointment. So you need to start off simple. Bit by bit, develop yourself. Remember, this is not a competition. It is your world, your work, and you can love its faults too, because it’s all been created by you. This creates the stepping stone for art therapy: confidence. This leads to every other positive feeling. If you are too nervous, start off with drawing lines and shapes. Fill a page with these. Or try out scribbles. You will see the progress as each day passes.
In the end, it is important to love yourself, and keep yourself in good health, both physical and mental. If art therapy at home does not help you enough, seek professional help. A simple Google search and get you a list of art therapists in your area. It is vital to know that consulting a psychologist is not a sign of mental deviance; in a world struck with so many problems which threaten our very survival, it is okay to seek the advice of the learned and experienced. You will find your stress, anger, fear reducing, and procrastination ebbing away. Art therapy has a number of benefits, and the aforementioned ones are just some of the most common and best seen. Who knows, what starts off as just a trial to find joy may lead to a big revelation. You might find what you love in this small venture.