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This Is Why Art Therapy Is the New Trend

This Is Why Art Therapy Is the New Trend

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to have any artistic skills to benefit from art therapy. Why not?

It’s not the finished product that matters. It’s the process.

The Art Therapy Association defines art therapy as, “a mental health profession in which clients, facilitated by the art therapist, use art media, the creative process, and the resulting artwork to explore their feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem.” Art therapy is rooted in Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung’s theories of the subconscious and unconscious and based on the idea that visual symbols and images are the most readily accessible forms of communication. Art therapy is often used in conjunction with traditional therapies and can be especially helpful with children or adults with more limited vocabulary and means of verbal expression.

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But why is art therapy so popular? For many reasons, including the following:

1. You can work through emotional issues without talking about your feelings.

According to artist and art therapist Denise Braun of HeartWork City Studios in California, “When you move your focus into your right brain through art, you start to let go of your analytical left brain. It is through that right brain creative process that we learn to release our inner critic and embrace the act of creating. It is never about the product. It is always about the process. Art therapy offers a way to unblock emotional expression without having to sit and talk about feelings. Art makes it easier to represent intense emotion without language.”

2. You feel more empowered.

Art therapy helps individuals visually express emotions and fears they were never able to articulate through conventional means, and give them some sense of control over these feelings, according to Psychology.jrank.org.

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3. You can reduce stress.

In addition to the insights a therapist might gain by watching you create art or the symbols in your finished product, the very act of creating art can reduce stress. Your brain focuses on creation and the often repetitive actions of drawing lines with pencils or moving paint with a paintbrush slows relaxes your body. Coloring has become a popular creative outlet for adults in recent years because it stimulates the right side of the brain — where your creativity, intuition and visualization lie.

Stress levels go down and feelings of peace and happiness increase.

4. You express and release emotions safely.

While some strong emotions may feel too overwhelming to express verbally, they can be released in a variety of ways through art. Anger, fear and resentment might be released by throwing paint onto a canvas or pounding clay. Others might give these emotions to a character in a drawing. Some emotions feel too big to talk about but can be worked out and released through the physicality of various art forms.

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5. You learn about yourself.

Interesting trends appear as you let your creative flag fly. You may be drawn to color combinations you hadn’t considered before or realize you prefer doodling circles instead of lines. Getting to know what colors, movements and materials (paint, pens, pencils, etc.) bring you peace will help you use art as a personal therapy and stress reliever.

6. You let go of chaos and connect to your inner child.

Wendy Young leads art groups to help people learn to play again. Through art she encourages them to explore their dreams and emotional blocks in a safe and creative environment.

Art Therapy is becoming trendy for a variety of reasons. First, it is becoming recognized by the medical community as providing benefits for mental health, which makes it more socially acceptable for the masses to try. Art is also easy and accessible when you release your beliefs around what it means to create art and stop judging what the end result is. When you allow yourself to enjoy the process and stop worrying about the outcome, you will find art to be a fun way to decompress!

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The only question that remains is this: What will you try first?

Featured photo credit: martinak15 via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 3, 2020

30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

In today’s world, true peace must come from within us and our own actions. Here are 30 small things you can do on a regular basis to increase your overall sense of harmony, peace, and well-being:

1. Don’t go to every fight you’re invited to

Particularly when you’re around those who thrive on chaos, be willing to decline the invitation to join in on the drama.

2. Focus on your breath

Throughout the day, stop to take a few deep breaths. Keep stress at bay with techniques such as “square breathing.” Breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, then out for four counts, and hold again for four counts. Repeat this cycle four times.

3. Get organized and purge old items

A cluttered space often creates a cluttered spirit. Take the time to get rid of anything you haven’t used in a year and invest in organizational systems that help you sustain a level of neatness.

4. Stop yourself from being judgmental

Whenever you are tempted to have an opinion about someone else’s life, check your intentions. Judging others creates and promotes negative energy.

5. Say ‘thank you’ early and often

Start and end each day with an attitude of gratitude. Look for opportunities in your daily routine and interactions to express appreciation.

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6. Smile more

Even if you have to “fake it until you make it,” there are many scientific benefits of smiling and laughing. Also, pay attention to your facial expression when you are doing neutral activities such as driving and walking. Turn that frown upside down!

7. Don’t worry about the future

As difficult as this sounds, there is a direct connection between staying in the present and living a more peaceful life. You cannot control the future. As the old proverb goes, “Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.” Practice gently bringing your thoughts back to the present.

8. Eat real food

The closer the food is to the state from which it came from the earth, the better you will feel in eating it. Choose foods that grew from a plant over food that was made in a plant.

9. Choose being happy over being right

Too often, we sacrifice inner peace in order to make a point. It’s rarely worth it.

10. Keep technology out of the bedroom

Many studies, such as one conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital, have connected blue light of electronic devices before bed to adverse sleep and overall health. To make matters worse, many people report that they cannot resist checking email and social media when their cell phone is in reach of their bed, regardless of the time.

11. Make use of filtering features on social media

You may not want to “unfriend” someone completely, however you can choose whether you want to follow their posts and/or the sources of information that they share.

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12. Get comfortable with silence

When you picture someone who is the ultimate state of peace, typically they aren’t talking.

13. Listen to understand, not to respond

So often in conversations, we use our ears to give us cues about when it is our turn to say what we want to say. Practice active listening, ask questions, process, then speak.

14. Put your troubles in a bubble

Whenever you start to feel anxious, visualize the situation being wrapped in a bubble and then picture that sphere floating away.

15. Speak more slowly

Often a lack of peace manifests itself in fast or clipped speech. Take a breath, slow down, and let your thoughtful consideration drive your words.

16. Don’t procrastinate

Nothing adds stress to our lives like waiting until the last minute.

17. Buy a coloring book

Mandala coloring books for adults are becoming more popular because of their connection to creating inner peace.

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18. Prioritize yourself

You are the only person who you are guaranteed to live with 24 hours a day for the rest of your life.

19. Forgive others

Holding a grudge is hurting you exponentially more than anyone else. Let it go.

20. Check your expectations

Presumption often leads to drama. Remember the old saying, “Expectations are premeditated resentments.”

21. Engage in active play

Let your inner child come out and have some fun. Jump, dance, play, and pretend!

22. Stop criticizing yourself

The world is a hard enough place with more than enough critics. Your life is not served well by being one of them.

23. Focus your energy and attention on what you want

Thoughts, words, and actions all create energy. Energy attracts like energy. Put out what you want to get back.

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24. Assign yourself “complaint free” days.

Make a conscious decision not to complain about anything for a whole day. It might be harder than you think and the awareness will stick with you.

25. Surround yourself with people you truly enjoy being in the company of

Personalities tend to be contagious, and not everyone’s is worth catching. Be judicious in your choices.

26. Manage your money

Financial concerns rank top on the list of what causes people stress. Take the time each month to do a budget, calculate what you actually spend and sanity check that against the money you have coming in.

27. Stop trying to control everything

Not only is your inner control freak sabotaging your sense of peace, it is also likely getting in the way of external relationships as well.

28. Practice affirmations

Repeat positive phrases that depict the life and qualities you want to attract. It may not come naturally to you, but it works.

29. Get up before sunrise

Personally witnessing the dawn brings a unique sense of awe and appreciation for life.

30. Be yourself

Nothing creates more inner discord than trying to be something other than who we really are. Authenticity breeds happiness.

Featured photo credit: man watching sunrise via stokpic.com

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