We all go through life’s ups and downs. When you are in a great place and everything is going well, you sail through your days with enthusiasm, making time for everything, and art goes so well.
With life’s downs, however, it’s quite a different story. Undoubtedly you have been through rough times in your life (and we’re talking something big, here): loss of a job, death or prolonged illness of a loved one, an illness, divorce, break-ups, etc. And it’s been hard to focus, get enough sleep, or relax.
Art Therapy is Real
Indeed, art therapy is an actual field that has helped numerous people in psychotherapy and hospital settings. Click here for an interesting article on this topic. But also, we can use art as a self-therapy to de-stress, relax, and “take the edge off” our troubles.
Just Pick Up a Pencil
Sometimes, the hard part is getting the time to create art in the midst of trying times. But you’d be surprised how even just a few minutes of doodle art with a cup of coffee or tea can help you relax. And all you need is a pencil (or even a pen is OK).
Sounds simplistic, I know. But seriously, during breakfast, lunch or coffee break, just doodle. Even if it’s nothing, it literally can look like nothing. Just move the pencil all around and across the paper randomly and watch as you do it. Be in the moment.
Watch the pencil as it moves (and yes, breathe deeply), be in the moment focusing on nothing but the pencil engaging with the paper (yes, mindfulness) and before you know it, you may see a shape in the lines you’ve made that draws your attention (sorry, couldn’t resist).
Expand on the shape you see. Allow your mind to engage fully; just you and the pencil and paper. Start to add detail to it if you begin feeling motivated. Erase the extra lines as you go to build up your little sketch-doodle.
Upon completing your little sketch, you may like it, you may not. So what? Who cares? But at least it was some way to get in some much-needed relaxation.
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Why Not Color?
Since the advent of adult coloring, many people now color for a pastime. It is also well-known to be a wonderful way to relax and de-stress.
Lately, I’m in a “life’s downs” position right now and “stressed” doesn’t even begin to cover the state I’ve been in for the past couple of months.
Not being in any particular frame of mind to be very creative using my own designs, but desperately wanting relief from my stress, I decided to just pick up a coloring book.
As I have mentioned in other articles, colored pencil is my favorite medium, and if I do say so myself, I can wield that pencil like nobody’s business. I even can probably do it in my sleep—well, OK, maybe not actually in my sleep. But I digress, lol.
One of the many reasons I love colored pencil so much is the soothing way in which the pencil moves around on the paper, no matter which technique you use. So, it seemed fitting to just pick up a coloring book!
And creating a beautiful picture (without having the stress of drawing it) and choosing very pretty colors can be very relaxing, rewarding, and uplifting!
In my article on adult coloring books (click here for the article and coloring book ideas), I discuss how I do love to color. Especially lately, it has truly been my friend when I need to just chill out.
Give it a try whenever you’re stressed. It works!
Don’t like to sharpen colored pencils?
Why not try Crayola Twistable Colored Pencils? (click here to check out) They are soft, so they feel great to use and never need sharpening!
Of course, you can also use markers to color. Just be sure to put a piece of paper behind the design you’re coloring to prevent bleeding onto the next design.
Watch Art Videos
Even if you don’t really even feel like going near your art materials, you can always watch an art video to de-stress. Just watching someone else create art can be so interesting, absorbing, relaxing and motivational all at the same time. At least it has been for me time and time again.
Often times, when I’m watching a video, I get a compulsion to grab some pencils or markers and just have some fun whipping up a sketch without the pressure of it needing to be something for sale; it would be just for me. And that’s quite relaxing for me.
Even if you don’t have the energy to create art, at least immersing yourself in watching the creation of art can be so calming and absorbing; you forget your troubles, at least for a little while.
Do you know or have heard of Bob Ross, the beloved oil painter on PBS? Well, his art show is sure to bring a smile to your face and inspiration to your mind as you watch this gentle soul transform a blank canvas into a beautiful scene—with “happy little trees”—in just a half hour! His videos are sure to relax you and give you that reprieve you need right now.
Create a Diversion
It has always been said to “keep yourself busy” in times of stress to take your mind off things. I get that, but sometimes we don’t know what to do or have the where-with-all to do something constructive, much less create art. I’ve been there, believe me, I know.
Sometimes, however, just straightening up and organizing my studio creates a nice diversion from stress but can also be motivational. Just looking at and touching my supplies as I organize them can provide a sense of purpose and comfort.
We all like things to be organized, and our art supplies are no exception.
And, we all know the joy creating art brings to our lives. You’d be surprised how just being in your creative space (not necessarily creating but just being there around all the materials that come with you on your art journeys) can really bring a lot of comfort to you.
Pull Out a Few Sketchbooks
Looking back on sketches or art pieces you’ve done can be very uplifting. They can evoke memories of the inspirationbehind the pieces or where you sketched them.
Here is a sketch I did for the Inktober challenge. (In case you don’t know about it, it’s a yearly challenge to make a drawing every day for the month of October, using a prompts list. The prompt for this drawing was “Ride”).
Even if you find a couple of sketches you’d never dare show anyone, it may even bring you a chuckle.
What if you find a little doodle that looks pretty good if you added some detail here or there? This just happened to me the other day! I came across a sketch of an old tree that caught my eye. “Not bad,” I thought, “but it could be detailed with tinier branches.” I immediately grabbed a pencil and spent five minutes tweaking the drawing.
Those old drawing pads or sketchbooks can bring you comfort and relaxation.
Relief is Just a Pencil Away
By now I’m sure you’re guessing I use art as a way to “get away from it all”, even if only temporarily. It gives me that much-needed relief from stress and helps renew and rejuvenate my strength.
Even if a stressor occupies you constantly, remember you can always sneak in some time to do some art without the pressure of making it be something. It can just be a doodle!
If you have read this, it could mean you’re also dealing with trying times right now. And If you are, I sincerely wish the best for you! Hopefully, this gave you some ideas to de-stress with art.
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Have an artful day!