Art Therapy: 6 Creative Activities That Can Relieve Your Stress and Anxiety

Recent research has confirmed what many therapists and creatives already knew: art is a form of therapy. Whether you use art to tap into your emotions or find your flow, there’s beauty in creating something from nothing and unplugging from the world around you.

The best part is that you don’t have to be talented or creative to try art therapy. Here are six creative activities that can help relieve your stress and anxiety. 

6 Creative Activities That Can Relieve Your Stress and Anxiety

Work with Clay

Working with clay is an excellent form of art therapy as it’s tactile and tangible. Rather than holding an implement, you manipulate the clay with your hands. Many find this particularly soothing and approachable for creating gifts and keepsake trinkets.

Start by looking through oven bake clay ideas to find a project that fits your style and skill level. Alternatively, you can sign up for a local pottery class and learn how to use a wheel and kiln. The benefit of oven bake clay projects is that you can get started with a few simple supplies. Taking your skills to the next level with a wheel and kiln is a great way to build on your creativity as you learn.

Create a Stress Painting

Painting is a versatile art form and a fantastic way to showcase emotion. It can also be a physical activity that helps get your body moving while reducing stress. 

Stress painting is an activity that channels your emotions to the canvas. Generally, this results in an abstract approach. Set up a canvas and choose colors that represent your stress. Then, take out your stress on the canvas. Don’t be afraid to slash, jab, and fling paint. You can add words or imagery that captures your emotion.

Set up outside or in a protected area to get the most out of your stress painting. Some find it cathartic to paint over the canvas when they feel better, to cut it and repurpose portions for other pieces, or to burn it.

Draw or Color a Mandala

Mandalas are a Jungian therapeutic tool meant to represent balance and order. Creating your own mandala can be calming and therapeutic, unlocking thoughts and emotions hiding in your subconscious. 

You can print a template to color if you aren’t ready to create a custom mandala. Don’t feel like your creation has to be entirely from scratch to be effective; studies have shown that coloring can minimize stress, anxiety, depression, and PTSD. 

You can also create a temporary mandala using natural elements, like stones and sticks in the woods or a drawing in the sand. These options are great for art therapy on the go.

Take Photos of Nature

Photography is an oft-overlooked art form that also has therapeutic benefits. It’s also a valuable skill to learn and develop over time. Anyone can point a camera and click to capture images of things they find beautiful.

Consider unplugging from technology and going on a nature walk to take photos of things you find beautiful. Revel in the moment and consider what you think or feel when you find something to photograph. Print these photos for future art projects or creative displays to remind you of your experience.

Create to Music

Music is another therapeutic form of creativity. While creating music isn’t appealing or feasible for some, there are still benefits to engaging with music while creating.

Whether you choose to draw, use clay, paint, or color, do so with a soundtrack playing in the background. Consider letting the music drive the art. Choose a random instrumental song and let the emotions flow through you as you create. This approach to creativity also works for journaling and creative writing to minimize stress and anxiety.

Create a Collage

Creating collages can help you create organization out of chaos, visualize the future, and express your emotions visually. There are endless approaches and options for creating an art therapy collage. You can use recycled newspapers and magazines. Conversely, you can create a collage on a computer or tablet using images you find on the internet.

Create a collage to showcase what’s stressing you out or visualize your future. Choose images that calm you or images that energize you. Consider displaying motivational or calming collages where you can see them every day as a visual reminder of what you’re working toward.

In Summary: Art Therapy Activities

Art is for everyone. Use these effective art therapy techniques to help relieve your stress and anxiety, so you can live a happier, calmer life.