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Using art to help reduce your child’s anxiety

Q: How can I use Art to help reduce (my child’s) anxiety?
A: Therapeutic art provides a way to gain insight and understanding through self-expression. Art especially helps when words alone do not (with feelings, thoughts and emotions).

The creative process can help you identify and express those deep and difficult anxious feelings that we all feel sometimes.

The process of creating art can be very calming and brings more self-awareness, which helps soothe symptoms of stress, nervousness, and irritability.

Creating art actively helps you visually express and record experiences, perceptions, feelings, and imaginations all while enhancing your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Expression through art can help you gain insight, self-awareness, and it can even rejuvenate your capabilities to resolve and reconcile conflicts and problems. Art making can help facilitate change.

The art assists with developing interpersonal, physical, cognitive, emotional, and social skills for healthy communication. Art as self-care aids in reducing stress, increasing self-esteem/self-love/confidence and self-expression.

Art is a beneficial, healthy, and fun coping mechanism. It helps people explore self-expression, such as exploring new creative ways to gain personal insight and develop new coping skills.

The act of creating art calms the nervous system, promotes the act of mindfulness, focus (reduction of over stimulation from outside sources), increases self-esteem and the sense of accomplishment from creating a piece of art.

Art exploration can aid in reducing anxiety by encouraging expression of feelings, problem solving and goal setting which aids in working towards improved thinking patterns.

Art is a stress reliever and is especially helpful when verbal expression is limited. Art is an encouraging playful form or expression, which is especially great for kids.

I offer a wide variety of “Creative Healthcare Wellness Workshops” which are all beneficial for anxiety reduction and would especially be beneficial at this time and start of this new year for children, teens, and families.

Here are several creative therapeutic activities/art directives, from the wide variety I offer, which are great for anxiety reduction which include creating a:

New Year Vision board which is similar to a crafty collage. Vision boards are typically made with pictures and crafty items that are glued onto a board, which help depict your outlook/goals for your future. Paints, colored pencils, and physical objects can be attached to the Vision board as well. Such as, magazine images, momentos and even decorative items that might have meaning. Setting goals is helpful, especially aiding in anxiety that may come with the new year and healing from the pandemic. If you believe that positive things are going to happen, they usually do! A vision board is a type of blueprint, not only of the vision you have for your life, but also reflects the feelings you want to see come forward in your life. When it comes to anxiety, your vision board should be about things that calm you down.

Gratitude Journal has numerous benefits from increased happiness, better sleep and more creativity. Focusing on things you are grateful for can reduce anxiety. Gratitude journals tend to be most effective and beneficial when you write about three items you are grateful for at the end of each day. Your journal can be written , crafty or colorful creative art entries. A gratitude journal is a tool to keep track of the good things in life, as there is always something to feel grateful for no matter how difficult times may be. Frequent journaling about the good things in your life can help prepare and strengthen you to deal with anxiety and tough situations in life. Start by writing down (or type) the things you are grateful for on a daily basis. You can use a journal, diary, notebook, or just a piece of paper. In your journal also try to reflect on positive affirmations to help cope with anxious feelings.

Mandala art. Creating patterns is mindful and meditative and helps reduce heightened emotions. The circle can represent a safe and contained space and creating artwork inside the circle can help silence a person’s mind and induce a calm, meditative and relaxing state. In a circle form you may choose your favorite media (colored pencils, markers, paint, crayons, mosaics, clay, etc.) to create images you may see during meditation (to begin), or filled with a pattern of shapes and colors.

Painting. A mind body connection with emotional release allowing a person’s mind to relax and let go of all the problems that contribute to stress or anxiety. When people create something through painting, they stimulate the creative mind while relieving mental strain. Rather than painting a image or a landscape, try making a abstract scribble art painting. On a canvas or paper , with your eyes closed, scribble a random doodle then paint those shapes with different patterns or colors. This type of abstract art helps in expressively painting your feelings/emotions and helps remove anxiety or perfectionism in your creative process.

It has also helpful, which I encourage, to incorporate uplifting soothing music (music therapy) when possible into the creative process, as well.

Everyone is a creative expressive artist and it’s the process, not the product that matters most. Art can help everyone.  

Diana Shabtai “MissDee, Psy.D., ATR-BC  is a board certified Art Therapist who Obtained a Masters degree in Clinical Art Therapy , MA in Marriage & Family Therapy & a Doctorate degree in MFT. She is passionate advocate for bringing awareness to the therapeutic benefits of Art. Experience studying, working, & educating in the field of psychology & the therapeutic arts for nearly 20 years, and her art studio in Newport Beach -Art Therapy OC She is A contributing writer to Jlife Magazine.

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