At the moment, we are all struggling during this incredibly challenging and scary time. Social distancing means being isolated from family, friends, colleagues, and your typical routine as a whole, which can be anxiety provoking and disheartening. During this uneasy time, one thing to consider trying (whether it is something you already know you like or not) is making art.
As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, many people are feeling an increase in anxiety and depression. The impositions to our society and personal routines have created an immense amount of obstacles and hardships. Staying at home, possibly working from home, creates a whole new dynamic between you and your home, those you live with, and even yourself. Limiting physical contact with the outside world is a huge transition to make and it certainly is not easy.
Therapeutic art can help with anxiety while social distancing?
There are many ways that have been broadcasted about great ways to deal with this change. Some examples are keeping to your routine however you can (ie. wake up at the same time you did for work, stick to the same eating schedule), maintain exercising, and utilize the phone and video chatting to maintain contact with your family and friends. All of these are great ways to adjust to this new normal.
Using this time to try something new is also a great possibility. Between YouTube tutorials and the many businesses who are offering online lessons, you could learn how to play an instrument, how to knit, how to cook, or nearly anything else via the internet. Using this time to engage in art is one of the best things you can do for yourself right now.
Art making has been shown to engage the mind and body in ways that reduce stress, relax the body, reduce anxiety, increase serotonin, and overall enhance brain function and well-being. Art is therapeutic and something that can really help many people through this time. As an art therapist in training, I can attest to the effects that art can have on an individual. Art therapy is a type of psychotherapy that engages the mind, body, and soul in ways to address emotional, behavioral, and developmental issues. While art therapy requires a licensed art therapist to facilitate the therapy, doing art yourself or with friends can bring a sense of calm and joy. There is no denying the rejuvenating and soothing effects that art has on the human body and mind.
Here are some ideas for creating art during this time:
1) Make a mandala
A mandala is a creation that is formed in the shape of a circle. Typically symmetrical, though not required, a mandala can be meditative and engage the brain in a calming way,
2) Collage your feelings
Have a ton of old magazines around? Go through them and cut out images that you relate to at that moment. Then collage them onto one piece of paper.
3) Make a prayer flag
Create a cloth flag that represents a prayer you want to put out into the universe, something for yourself and/or for others out there. At this time in our society, this one could be particularly soothing.
4) Create a self-portrait
This can be done realistically or abstractly. Draw how you see yourself using a mirror or use collage to represent yourself in images. There are endless possibilities.
5) Make a gratitude tree
Draw or print out a picture of a tree, the draw or cut out leaf-shapes to write on them things you are grateful for. Add them to the tree.
6) Recreate a piece of famous art
It can be an actual recreation or change it up. How would you reinterpret Starry Night? The piece could also inspire something totally new for you.
Art can allow us to feel so much and support us through difficult times. It is something that can bring comfort and joy when we are suffering or facing challenges. If you find yourself struggling to cope during this time, please do not hesitate to reach out to a loved one or a professional. If you are interested in learning more about art therapy, check out the American Art Therapy Association at arttherapy.org.