Art therapy a powerful tool for those looking for a more peaceful life. Experts often use art therapy to help people with their recovery process in many areas, including PTSD, other serious trauma, and mental illness. Many of these same techniques are helpful if you want to stimulate your the creative process and improve your health and relationships.
Did you know that your physical health can benefit, too? According to MSU.edu, In more recent years, researchers have explored the benefits of art therapy for treating a variety of physical health difficulties. Some of their findings show art therapy:
- Helped reduce pain, decrease symptoms of stress and improve quality of life in adult cancer patients.
- Improved ability to deal with pain and other frightening symptoms in children with cancer.
- Reduced stress and anxiety in children with asthma.
- Stimulated mental function in older adults with dementia.
- Indicated a reduction in depression in Parkinson’s patients.
If you’re curious about how art therapy can benefit you physically, mentally, or relationally, you’re on the right path. Here are the major benefits of these techniques and some sample exercises you can do individually or with friends or family.
Art therapy is a great tool to get to know yourself better. Taking a pause from your daily routine to access your creativity gives you an opportunity to discover new insights about yourself. You get to reflect on how you’re feeling and what you value most.
Put those insights to work. Use the images you create to help heal painful memories and remind yourself of all the things that you have to be grateful for. Art therapy focuses on the inner experience to help you find solutions to recurring challenges.
Many people say that it reduces stress. Relax and enjoy the creative process. Forget about your job and your kid’s grades for a while. Get absorbed in letting your imagination run free.
Art therapy can help strengthen your relationships. If you are open to sharing, art therapy can also have a social dimension. Share your activities with your family and friends. You’ll all learn to process emotions better, improve your communication and build trust.
If you are new to art therapy, you may be looking for some ideas. Here are a few suggestions – first if you are working alone, and then some ideas for working in a group. Get creative and enjoy!
Let’s start by thinking outside the box. Picture yourself as an animal. Draw yourself as an animal. This can be one that you think you resemble or that you want to be more like. Your choice may teach you something about yourself.
Another fun way to be creative is to paint or draw along with music. Use music to loosen yourself up. Set down the images that come to mind as you listen. Alternatively, just wave your pencil or paintbrush like a conductor’s baton and see what takes form.
If you aren’t comfortable with your drawing or painting skills, make a collage instead. Collages are an easy way to get started if you feel a little inhibited about your artistic skills. Put together a variety of found objects or cut pictures out of magazines. Add captions and quotes.
One way to creatively describe yourself is to invent a coat of arms. Even if wearing a suit of armor may seem a little ridiculous, you can still enjoy sporting a coat of arms. Come up with a sketch and a slogan. If you’re feeling bold, put them on a t-shirt or a flag.
If you prefer not to work alone, here are a few ideas for getting creative with art therapy in groups.
Paint a collective mural. A big group needs a big canvas. Get an inexpensive roll of brown shipping paper and spread it out on the floor or tape it to a wall. Choose a theme, plan your design or let it evolve naturally.
Partner up with someone you want to get to know a little better and you each can illustrate a story. One partner creates and tells the story while the other designs illustrations to go along with it. When you’re done, switch roles.
Create a group portrait. This one has endless possibilities. The idea is to capture the whole group on paper or in a collection of objects that you think speak to your identity. You can pair off so that each person draws their partner or take group photographs. Take multiple shots to capture different moods and poses. Another fun way is to lay on a big piece of paper and have your partner trace around you, and then complete the drawings.
You can make a game out of it and complete each other’s drawings. Sit around a table and give everyone a colored pencil. Pass around a piece of paper so each person can add one line or curve until you have a drawing. Your collective work can represent an object or just be an abstract design. When finished, color them in.
Have fun using the power of art to learn more about yourself and others. Open up your creativity and you’ll welcome more peace and happiness into your life. These have been just a few ideas to get you started. As you start to think creatively about art therapy techniques, you’ll discover more ways to express yourself and improve your mind, body, and spirit.
Find your purpose – find your joy!
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