by Blake Herzog
Art therapy has been part of the wellness toolbox since the 1940s, but our emotions have informed our visual creativity since we began etching images on rocks and cave walls.
Drawing, painting, knitting, collaging, sculpting and photography are just a few of the activities in which you can nonverbally connect with your mind to express feelings of gratitude, anger, sadness, fear, joy, healing and hope.
While formal art therapy is conducted in a therapeutic setting with a licensed practitioner, there are many activities you can try on your own time to learn more about how emotions and experiences have shaped you and how you can shape them into a constructive part of your life.
- Create a future self-portrait — Create an image of how you see yourself in the future by drawing, painting or making a collage using materials that have importance to you.
- Make a diorama — This can portray a positive memory or a traumatic experience that you want to see from an outside perspective.
- Document a spiritual experience — Think about a time when you felt especially connected to a higher being or the universe and create an image that captures how it made you feel.
- Draw pictures in the sand — You can try this relaxing activity at a beach, playground, sandbox or a desktop Zen garden, either preserving your art through a photo or simply washing it away to start over.
- Draw, paint or sculpt something outside — Plein air creativity helps you connect to nature, and your time spent outdoors will lift your spirits.
- See freedom — Visualize what the concept of freedom means to you and depict that in a drawing, painting or other art form.
- Draw with crayons — Crayons are imperfect tools for drawing lines and coloring areas in. Learn to accept and celebrate gaps, crooked lines, patchy colors and other quirks of being a crayon and being a human.
- Create a postcard for someone who’s made you angry — Draw images of how this anger makes you feel on one side, then write about what happened on the other. You don’t have to send it, and probably shouldn’t.