7 Fun Art Therapy Exercises to Try at Home
Are you in need of an enjoyable pick-me-up?
Do you have coloured pencils, paper or glitter?
If the answer is yes - then let's go! Let's explore how we could enjoy being creative at home.
If you don't have pencils or paper - not to worry - I have a few alternative ideas that don't involve drawing or painting.
I am terrible at art: I cannot draw, sketch or even doodle even if my life depended on it. But I love doing it! I love doodling and sketching when no one is watching because my creations look as good as my toddler's - and I am not exaggerating.
But I cherish those moments when I can be creative - they makes me experience the utter joy that you could only experience as a child - immense, overpowering and self-absorbing joy.
Also for me artistic expression is a form of mindfulness as it helps me to slow down my thoughts and get in touch with my emotions.
So what is Art Therapy?
Art therapy is similar to ‘talking’ therapies, where you see a professional trained at a particular therapy and you talk through your troubles and emotions with him/her. Art therapy is a mixture of art and psychology and helps to access the inner world and feelings, deal with stress, and even pain with the help of some sort of creative activity. But it has other uses:
According to one study art therapy could be used to help people facing daily challenges including burnout at work.
But there are so many other benefits to art therapy, just to name a few:
Connect with the true self
Allow to slow down
Access emotions and feeling
Quiet one's mind
Access new thoughts and ideas
Explore new potentials
Learn to be yourself
A new hobby
Art Therapy Practice at Home
But you don't need to see a professional to experience some benefits of art therapy. You can enjoy it at home, all by yourself or together with your family.
Creative activities can help us express our feelings and emotions that are usually hidden away or bottled up. But letting go of our emotions, especially negative, is good for our mental health and wellbeing.
Why practice art therapy at home is such a good idea?
1. We don't need to worry about what other people might think or say
2. We don’t need to worry about being criticized for doing something differently
3. We don’t need to think that someone might judge us or even laugh at. 4. We can create as much mess as we please
5. You can be yourself
But most importantly - you don’t need to be an artist to enjoy art therapy. All you need is a desire to explore, desire to let your true self come out and play!
'Through creativity and imagination, we find our identity and our reservoir of healing'. - Stuckey HL, Nobel J.
Art therapy ideas
And there are so many variations of art therapy to choose from, here is a list of ideas:
Mandala drawing or colouring
Colouring for relaxation
Journalling / free writing
Fairy tale writing
Zentangle drawing activity
The bucket list
7 Ways to Enjoy Art Therapy at Home
I will only touch upon a few in more detail just to show you what you could do with it.
You don’t need to be a painter to paint.
Grab a sketchbook, some paints and start... throwing blobs on paper. If that is what you feel like doing.
Express yourself. Mix colours together, or use one colour. Experiment!
If you are feeling sad or a bit down - try expressing your mood or emotions by putting them on paper. Think about what colour is your sadness. Is it grey or blue? Or maybe it's green or brown? Paint it and look at it. It’s not that sad and scary any more, is it?
Then once the first painting is ready - put it aside. Create a new version using brighter colours. Experiment and see what your good mood looks like in colour. Don't be afraid to go for bold, bright, and vibrant colours!
This will definitely help to lift your mood.
2. Fairy Tale Writing
Get a pen and paper and write your own fairy tale about anything: talking animals, princesses, robots. Don't overthink, just start putting words on paper.
Create a magical world of your dreams.
Make your heroes relive your problems and find magical or whimsical solutions to them.
Have you lost car keys? Write that they've been stolen by trolls because they open the door to the magical kingdom. It might not help you to find your keys, but it will put a smile on your face.
Would you like a prince to slay your dragon of sadness? Write a story about it! Don't worry about whether it's making much sense, whether it's long or short - it's your story. Make your heroes do whatever you feel they need to be doing. Finish whenever you want. Simply put ‘the end’ if you cannot think how to end it.
3. Painting with your fingers
Who said that finger painting is for kids only?!...
Kids look so happy when they are allowed to do something messy using their hands, don't they? Why can't adults enjoy messy play?!
Painting with your fingers could be very meditative and relaxing as we don't normally use our fingers to paint.
But give it a go. Take some paper and paints. Touch the paint with your fingers and go for it!
As this activity is so different from your everyday tasks it could provide a much-needed break from your usual thought processes.
4. Painting with glitter
This is a variation of finger painting and normal painting.
Paint with glitter or use your fingers to cover everything you can think of with glitter!
Introduce some bling to your household. Add glitter to your notebooks, recipe books, the fridge door? Anything you can think of (that you can later remove if needed).
Or just take a piece of paper and go crazy with glitter. Relive your childhood dream of making as much mess with glitter as you wanted to but wasn’t allowed to.
5. Writing letters or postcards
Do you remember that feeling when you receive a postcard or a letter through a letterbox that is not a bill or an advert?
Make this happen for your friends or loved ones - write a postcard or a letter and send it. Or don't send it.
But try being as mindful as you can when writing it. Think about what you could say if you do post it.
You'll quickly notice that you start thinking more carefully about what you are putting down on paper. Because the letter or postcard cannot be easily edited.
This process could help you to relax and get in touch with your inner self that leads to more slow and mindful lifestyle.
6. Happiness Board
It's similar to visualisation board but instead of capturing your dreams and desires you think about what makes you happy now, in the present.
Use old magazines, postcard, scrap paper and cut out images and photos that make you happy. Do not edit as you go. Allow your inner self to take over for a bit.
This activity is about reminding yourself what in the world makes you happy. Maybe it's photos of cats and puppies. Maybe it's a seaside view. Or maybe it's your favourite quote. Create something that you could use and look at when you are not feeling happy.
Alternatively, you could create a digital happiness board using PowerPoint or any other program and cutting & pasting images or words that resonate with you.
Or try creating a Pinterest board and make it secret if you wish, so you are not worried that someone might see what your happiness looks like.
But be mindful about how much time you spend online. And try not to get sucked into checking emails or other activities that will not benefit your happiness board.
7. Follow a new and fun recipe
It's time for a messy play in the kitchen!
Why can't you be creative with food? You can.
Choose a new and fun recipe that you could create. Ideally, it could be a dessert so you could reward yourself later on. But it could be absolutely anything you could think of.
Maybe there is a recipe you've been putting off for a while because it takes too long? Well, now that you are treating this as a creative activity, you could take as long as you need.
Instead of rushing and throwing things in, or watching TV while cooking - why don't you try to cook mindfully.
Think about the ingredients you are using, where they might have come from. Think how slowly or how fast you are mixing or adding something in. Pause and smell. Does it remind you of anything?
Chances are that this dish you make as part of your creative activity will be one of the best dishes you have ever tried. Everything that we create with a gentle of soft attitude ends up tasting better.
What to do with your art?
What do you do with your art after you are done? You could journal about what you’ve created. Write down the feelings and emotions the process or the end result has stirred up.
You could share with your family if you want to and they are willing to. You could discuss it with them.
You could create a special folder and keep your creations there.
Or you could throw it away If it helps and if that's what you feel is needed.
It's your rules as it's a self-therapy that is there to benefit you and you only.
As you can see, Art Therapy is for everyone. It could be anything and everything you want, from painting and doodling to cooking and dreaming. You can even create your own version or variation of any activity.
The primary goal is to be mindful, enjoy yourself and allow yourself to tap into a different version of you, even if it’s only for an hour.