I was always jealous of those artistically gifted people who could just grab a pencil and sketch things from the top of their heads. But during quarantine I came upon a fantastic discovery! You do not have to be particularly gifted to express yourself through art! I knew I never had it in me, so during one lazy boring afternoon I decided to open up Youtube and search for art tutorials, and boy was I right in doing that. Though I can’t claim to have become gifted overnight, but I did try to copy and imitate and by doing so learn a few techniques that I always saw as impossible.
But my joy didn’t just stop there! Not only did I learn a few techniques, I was also visibly more relieved after I was done. It turns out it was the perfect exercise to help me de-stress and practice mindfulness when I was solely focused on the task at hand. So when everyone is claiming that you should start a new hobby during quarantine, art was at the top of my list. Studies prove that a 45-minute session with an art therapist will greatly reduce cortisol levels in adults. Other studies also explained that creating art increases the blood flow to the medial frontal cortex, which is the area of the brain that is responsible for helping us feel rewarded and which can simply create positive feelings and emotions.
Other great uses for art in generally and art therapy in particular is to help us process our feelings. If you’re not a fan of journalling or feel intimated by putting your feelings into words; you are encouraged to put colors to paper whenever things become difficult. You do not have to produce valuable art here just color or sketch away. The key here is to let yourself go and to fully engage in the process without worrying much about outcomes. If this still feels too daunting you can start by doodling with your non dominant hand or by scribbling with your eyes closed. Below are a few simple tips suggested by art therapists that can help you make use of this hobby to de-stress and generate good feelings.
1 || Paint To The Music
Put on some music and draw. The music can be anything that suits your mood, it can even be grungy music as long as you can close your eyes and move your pencil, colors, or paint brushes to the sound of the music. Vary the strength and pressure of your strokes to make the best use of this exercise.
2 || Have You Heard Of A Zentangle
The zentangle is a deeply relaxing drawing method that involves using combinations of lines, dots, curves, and orbs to create a pattern. The pattern is drawn on a small piece of paper that is adequately called a ‘tile’. The tiles are brought together to create mosaic-inspired art.
3 || Paint & Walk
You would think this is a pre-school-age activity and it probably is, but you cannot complain about the mess unless you try it. If you can manage to find long sheets of paper, just dip or paint your feet and your child’s for that matter and walk. This can also be done with your hands and fingertips as well.
4 || Draw A Happy Place
Think of a peaceful place, close your eyes, visualise this place, take a few deep breaths and try to draw it. It can be real or imaginary, it can be a beach, a garden, or a room, it doesn’t matter as long as it can elicit feelings of peace within you.
5 || Practice Gratitude
Instead of writing down the things you are grateful for today, researchers suggest that you draw them. We all know practicing gratitude induces feelings of happiness so what better way to do that than by drawing (using colors) your kids, your pet, your book or whatever else that you’re grateful for today. And this is a wonderful way to teach gratitude to your children.
6 || Mandalas Anyone
Relax your mind and body by creating patterns that emanate from a circle or a point and that radiate outwards. You can use rulers, stencils, stamps, or buttons, beads or beans, or just plain paper and pen to create your mandala.
7 || Paint A Window
I know this may seem a bit farfetched but there is a certain amount of satisfaction that comes with painting on glass and then looking through it. If you’re worried about the cleaning aspect, just get dry-erase colors and you’re good to go.