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6 Fun and Simple Art Projects Guaranteed to Lower Stress

6 Fun and Simple Art Projects Guaranteed to Lower Stress

When you think about art, you probably think about your nearest museum and all the fancy pictures of naked ladies and sculptures of Greek gods there. On the other hand, you might think about some modern wire sculptures, and you are not sure what they truly mean except that they look like over-glorified coat hangers. No, art is about passion and about what the artist feels inside when he or she is making art – which is a good thing to remember. It all sounds complicated. Finding motivation, investing time and effort, how can that be relaxing?

Well, my dear internet reader, art can be whatever you want it to be – it can be as simple as writing a love letter, or as complicated as creating a zen garden. It is about the experience that involves both your motor skills and focused thinking that can totally occupy the brain and push out other stressors through the window, at least temporarily. It can be an excellent healing process for anyone, especially those who have their days filled with anxiety, negative emotions, or simply too much work.

We have made a small artistic list that will certainly help you relax, enjoy yourself, and not to mention that, at the end of this trip, you’ll have something that you’ll be proud of and that will have practical purpose in your life. Let’s start!

1. Get Your Knit Together

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    First of all, no, knitting is not only for elderly women with lots of cats. Even though I wholeheartedly recommend everyone get at least one cat, knitting can be a calming activity for everyone. In the start, knitting can be difficult to grasp, but once you get through the initial learning curve, the repetitive motion of your fingers will sooth your mind, or even relieve you of chronic pain. There are a lot of knitting groups around you, so you can just Google it. If you are not feeling like spending time with others, there are a lot of tutorials online, so take a look.

    In the end, you’ll have a perfect present for your baby cats, um… I mean, your friends and their human babies, or you’ll be left with a nice scarf that will keep you warm. If you want, you can learn more complex patterns and make something like a whole sweater, then two, then start a knitted sweater empire and rule the world, but I guess ruling the world isn’t as soothing as I might think. Moving on.

    2. Think Inside the Box

    I am talking about creating a memory box. Do you look around your place and see a plethora of stuff that you are too emotionally attached to and you can’t simply throw away, yet you think that it is cluttering your living space? Think no more! Why don’t you create a cute, dedicated box where you can put all your small trinkets away? You don’t have to hide the box in your attic – on the contrary! Make it beautifully unique, and display it on your coffee table. You can buy materials at any DIY store, which include glue, a few measured planks, some glitter and favorite type of cloth. Then take a measuring tape, and start sawing away.

    Decorate it in any way you want, make it for yourself only, so don’t mind if other don’t like it, it’s not meant to be beautiful, it’s supposed to calm you. Then put your favorite trinkets inside, and there you have it – you’ve done something fun, you’ve gained a new skill, you are probably covered in glue head to toe, but now you have something to declutter your home!

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    3. Piece Together a Collage

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      The glitter you’ve bought for the last project can be used here as well – there isn’t an art project glitter can’t improve. If you want to create a cute memento that is dedicated to the relationship you have with your partner, best friend, or your mother or father, creating a collage is a good idea. Not only can it be used to improve the looks of your bedroom, but it can also be a nice gift. Collages are usually made by gluing stuff onto construction paper, such as pictures, newspaper articles, anything that you can think of. The only tool you’ll need are scissors, and your imagination.

      Just cut all that stuff in the desired shape, and start arranging them. You can add any kind of memento there, such as used movie tickets or receipts, but you can also use colored paper to fill in the voids, or add pressed flowers. While this might seem like an activity for women only, think again. Once this is done, you’ll have something that can be a perfect gift for someone you love, or even for yourself.

      4. Go Have a Stroke

      You’ve probably heard about coloring books? They are making a great comeback, and what is more interesting, there are a lot of books that are only designed for adults, meaning that they are much more complex than what you’ve seen in your childhood. This requires more thought than you might think, as well as precise movement, but if you find this too restricting, why not try to create a real painting? There is probably a painting club or two nearby, so you can go there and get some basic instruction. If you are not up to spending time with strangers, then you’ll need a blank canvas, any size you want, and any kind of coloring tool.

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      Everything from crayons to watercolors is fine, acrylic paintings are quite common nowadays as they create vibrant colors without a lot of effort. You can even try and finger paint, which is even more relaxing, especially if you enjoy getting your hands dirty and getting physical with stuff. If cavemen could do it, so can you!

      5. Origami Your Way out of Stress

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        You do not have to create a prancing horse from a piece of paper immediately, you can start with a simple boat or the famous army cap. You’ve probably heard of origami before, it’s an ancient art of making stuff out of simple colored pieces of paper, and you’ve probably already been jealous of other people who are so much better at it than you. Don’t fret, this is about inner piece, and it is about finding what you truly want.

        You need not compare yourself to others, at least not until you get the hang of it. This simple folding of paper can melt your worries away, and simply occupy you so that you don’t have time to think about how your boss was rude earlier today. Control your thoughts and you will feel better in no time. Then take a picture of what you’ve made and post it online, because what isn’t on Facebook, officially didn’t happen.

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        6. “Do it YourShelf” Projects

        This part is reserved for anything else you can think of! Everyone has the capability of coming up with unique ideas that can be extremely satisfying and fun to execute. You can get some clay, and then make ashtrays for your friends who smoke, because, of course you don’t, smoking is bad and can only stress you further. You can find many ideas online about DIY lamps that are quite pretty, and are extremely easy to make.

        Or you can make a laptop cushion for your lap – or you can make a small sandbox that you can place on your work desk and relax when you find things to be too hectic. If you have some tools lying around, you can even create a unique shelf for your favorite books, which you read in your free time instead of watching Game of Thrones, because that show gives, even the best of us, mild anxiety. First he was dead, now he is alive, and Brienne is hooking up with whom? Never mind.

        In the End, Be Drawn to Art

        Sorry, I know, my puns are bad and I should feel bad.

        Back to the topic, If it’s any kind of consolation, all of us are stressed. There are simply so many bills, and so little of us. That is why we are on an eternal quest of finding something that makes us happy, that soothes our nerves and that will help us pass the troublesome times, and get to the stuff that really matters. Our family, loved ones, even our pets. So, take a deep breath, and know that only you have the tool to help yourself, and calming down is usually the first step to success.

        Featured photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/BHNxfaeNCTI via pexels.com

        More by this author

        Vladimir Zivanovic

        CMO at MyCity-Web

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        Last Updated on November 15, 2019

        Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism

        Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism

        Wouldn’t you like to be able to eat twice as much as you do now without gaining weight? If so, I have good news for you because this is possible when you learn how to increase metabolism.

        How Much Do You Know About Metabolism?

        Before we get to the meat, let me say that metabolism is a term that describes all the chemical reactions in your body.[1] These chemical reactions keep your body alive and functioning, however, the word metabolism is often used interchangeably with the metabolic rate or the number of calories you burn.

        The metabolic rate is a rough estimate of how much energy your body needs to simply stay alive and perform all its biochemical reactions. These reactions require energy, aka burn calories.

        Imagine that your brain alone consumes nearly 20% of your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure at rest),[2] your digestion and the detoxifying system come second, repairing tissues third and so on.

        Staying alive is expensive for your body and its two main currencies are fats and sugars.

        When I am talking about improving your metabolic rate (metabolism), I mean improving the amount of energy, your body requires to (pretty much) lay down in bed and do nothing for 24 hours.

        Extra physical activity, extra thinking or fighting illness are things that require a lot of energy (burn a lot of calories) but they don’t really increase metabolism… actually they can decrease it.

        Can You Naturally Change the Speed of Your Basal Metabolism?

        The answer to this question is yes and you can also achieve an increase in metabolism and a drop in body fat by eating more.

        Shocked? Well, I was too.

        The way I came across this phenomenon is quite funny. Over my 10 years as a coach, I helped many busy professionals to naturally increase their metabolism by getting them leaner, fitter and stronger but, at the beginning of my career, I actually had no idea whether they were losing weight because of an increase in metabolism or because we created a calorie deficit with diet and exercise.

        When I was training my clients regularly, they would lose weight. Every time I would take a few weeks of vacation, I would come back to London and find out that most of them gained back a generous amount of weight despite the fact that they were following their diet and they swapped our weight training sessions with cardio.

        On the contrary, when they were going on vacation, they would do zero exercises and binge like there was no tomorrow but come back either lighter or weighing the same (but looking more muscular).

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        Observing this phenomenon happening over and over again, got me curious about the mechanics of our metabolism and the ways to hack it.

        Was it really possible that by relaxing and eating more food, someone could actually maintain his/her current weight or even be losing fat?

        Driven by the desire to answer this question, I spent a good amount of years researching and testing different food strategies until I finally cracked the code to an improved metabolism that allows you to eat like a king and look like a Greek God.

        Does Eating More Increase Metabolism?

        Before I explain why eating more increases your metabolism, let me dig into something that I see people doing much more often: “eating less and moving more.”

        It is quite common to see people embarking their yearly weight loss journey (usually after Christmas or Easter) by following very restrictive diets and bombarding their body with several hours of exercise per day.

        Despite the short-term effectiveness of this approach, in the long run, if the goal is to increase metabolism and lose a lot of fat over an extended period of time, this simply won’t work.

        As I have mentioned before, eating fewer calories and exercising more are energy-consuming activities for your body. In the first case, your body needs to use its own energy reserves to top up the missing energy it needs to fully function; and in the second, it takes your body extra energy to contract your muscles.

        In both cases, your TDEE (Total daily energy expenditure at rest) doesn’t vary much; therefore your metabolism stays unchanged.[3]

        A different scenario happens when you eat less and move more for an extended period of time (weeks or months). In that case, your metabolism will slow down because your body is receiving a “we have little access to food and we need to run away from threats” signal.

        Your metabolism is like your bank account.

        To understand this concept, let’s imagine that you have $4,000 coming into your bank account each and every month. The money you spend on housing, transport, food and leisure are calibrated according to this monthly income.

        Now, imagine that a rich uncle starts to send you $1,000 each day. What would you do? Probably, you would save that money for the first two or three days but, when you notice that $1,000 keep on coming every single day, you would likely start to spend more right?

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        What if, instead of a rich uncle sending you money, a poor uncle needed your financial help to pay for the treatments of his illness? You would probably try your best to adjust your spending according to your old $4,000 monthly budget.

        That’s exactly how your body reasons:

        More Resources Coming in = More Energy Released (Improved Metabolism)

        Fewer Resources Coming in = Less Energy Released (Decreased Metabolism)

        Note that activities like weight training[4] and high-intensity interval training (HIIT),[5] when combined with an increase in nutrient-rich foods, will also improve your metabolism.

        For this reason, today, when I coach a new client, I always start by increasing their daily food intake and their physical activities. Usually, people are quite confused because they come to me to lose weight and I tell them to eat more but, without fail, the next weekly weight-check shows a lower number.

        Be aware that not all foods are equal and only certain foods have the power to increase metabolism to a noticeable extent.

        Foods That Increase Metabolism

        Doubling up on Snickers bars won’t improve your metabolism and you know that. What you may not know is that certain foods that are marked as “healthy” doesn’t help you with increasing your metabolism. They also make you gain weight.

        Before giving you a list of foods to eat or avoid, let me explain a simple principle of human biochemistry.

        Your body uses energy from three (or four) main sources:

        • Sugars: whether you eat a Snickers bar or a banana, the carbohydrates contained in both get absorbed in the gut and become blood glucose (the basic form of sugar our body utilizes as a source of energy).[6]
          When blood glucose is present in the bloodstream (elevated levels), the body always uses it as its primary source of energy. When blood glucose levels drop (this phenomenon happens when you’re using these sugars to fuel a physical activity or when your pancreas produced a spike of insulin and stores that glucose into fat and muscles), your body starts to release fatty acids into the bloodstream to use as a source of energy.
        • Fatty acids: either from your own fat cells (adipocytes) or from whatever fat-containing foods you ate in the past 2-3 hours. Fatty acids are a slower and more consistent form of energy than sugars that your body can utilise.
        • Amino acids: Amino acids are the broken-down form of proteins. Proteins cannot be used by the body as a source of energy, not even in their broken-down form. Your body can transform amino acids into glucose with a process called gluconeogenesis.[7] This is a very inefficient process where a decent amount of energy gets wasted (and that’s a good thing for us but I’ll get to that later).
        • Ketones: when you don’t feed your body any source of carbs (or proteins in excess), your liver produces an alternative source of energy called Ketones. It can replace the need for glucose (most of it at least).[8]

        Now that you know the four energy sources the body can use to fuel its metabolism, let’s get to the meat (quite literally).

        To make this simple for you, I am going to divide foods into three categories:

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        1. Red Flags – Avoid the red foods because they slow your metabolism. They are usually extremely low in micronutrients and high in antinutrients (agents that are highly toxic). They are highly processed or spike your insulin levels (therefore stopping your fat burning process).
        2. Orange Foods – Limit your consumption of orange foods. The orange foods on the list are suboptimal choices but they don’t have a negative impact on your metabolism when consumed in moderation. In fact, they contain a decent amount of micronutrients and, if eaten in small amounts, they shouldn’t stop your fat burning process.
        3. Green Foods – These are foods to consume most. Green foods will improve your metabolism and should be the main bulk of your diet.

        Next, I’ll get into details exactly what foods to eat and avoid:

        Sugars and Carbs

        Sugars do not directly improve metabolism because they stop the process of fat utilisation. There is an exception to this rule though. When you eat a diet extremely low in carbohydrates and sugars for an extended period of time (two to six days onwards), introducing carbohydrates and sugars can actually improve metabolism quite a bit.

        Unfortunately, for most of us that love eating bread, pasta, fruit and yoghurt, unless we were on a low-carb diet for the past few days, these foods are not an optimal choice.

        Sugars like fructose (found in fruit or commercial sugar) actually decrease metabolism and should be limited. Heavily processed sugars and carbohydrates should be also limited. Here is the colour list of sugars and carbs that affect metabolism:

        Red Flag Sugary Foods You Should Avoid:
        • Dried fruit
        • Commercial and packaged corn
        • High fructose corn syrup
        • All sorts of candies and lookalike
        • Packaged fruit juices and purees
        • Sugary dairy products like flavoured yoghurt, condensed milk etc
        Orange Sugary Foods You Should Limit:
        • Bread and flour-based products
        • Milk and also vegan milk alternatives that are sweetened
        • Most fruit (exceptions are in the green list below)
        • Potatoes and potato starch products
        • Oatmeals and other grains
        Green Sugary and Carb-Containing Foods That Improve Metabolism
        • All berries except strawberries
        • Tubers like squash, carrots, parsnips etc
        • Sweet potatoes
        • White rice
        • All green vegetables

        Fats

        Fatty acids and fats, in general, can improve or decrease metabolism depending on their composition.

        Red Flag Fatty Foods You Should Avoid:
        • Margarine and hydrogenated fat
        • Lard
        • Gmo oils
        • Most vegetable oils from seeds and peanut oil
        Orange Fatty Foods You Should Limit:
        • Nuts
        • Meat fat
        • Nut oils (macadamia, almond, cashew etc..)
        • Seeds
        Green Fatty Foods You Should Eat Daily
        • Extra virgin olive oil (non-heated)
        • Avocado
        • Coconut oil
        • Butter (organic)
        • Egg yolks (free-range)
        • Bone marrow

        The fatty foods in the green section tend to be very effective in increasing metabolism, especially in the absence of carbohydrates because they stimulate the production of ketones (I’ll talk about this later).

        Bear in mind that 1 gram of fat has 2.5 times the calories of a gram of protein or carbohydrates; therefore “eating more fats” to increase metabolism should be done very gradually to avoid weight gain.

        Proteins

        Eating food not only sends regulatory signals to your brain about abundance vs scarcity of resources, but it can also increase your metabolism for a few hours. This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF).[9] It’s caused by the extra calories required to digest, absorb and process the nutrients in your meal.

        Protein causes the largest rise in TEF.[10] It increases your metabolic rate by 15-30%, compared to 5-10% for carbs and 0-3% for fats

        Eating protein has also been shown to help you feel more full and prevent you from overeating, in fact, a study found that people were likely to eat around 441 fewer calories per day when protein made up 30% of their diet.[11]

        Also, proteins help preserve muscle mass.[12] The more muscle mass we have, the higher our basal metabolism is.

        For these reasons, the first nutritional advice I usually give to clients is to reduce sugars and increase proteins. This quick swap is often enough to kickstart their metabolism and commence the fat burning process.

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        Red Protein Sources That Should Be Avoided
        • Cheap whey proteins
        • Soy proteins
        • GMO meat
        • GMO eggs
        • Packaged meat
        Orange Protein Source to Be Limited
        • Canned tuna
        • Canned fish
        • Canned meat
        • Gluten-rich products like Seitan
        • Farmed fish
        Green Protein Sources to Have Daily
        • Free-range meat
        • Free-range eggs
        • Wild meat and fish
        • Whey protein isolate
        • Collagen and beef protein hydrolyzed

        Note that this is a general categorisation of the foods that, when added to your diet, have the power to increase or decrease metabolism. There are some specific foods and supplements worth mentioning because they have been proven to improve metabolism by increasing thyroid output or resting heart rate, they are as follows.

        Other Foods and Supplements

        Cold water

        Drinking water may temporarily speed up your metabolism. Studies have shown that drinking 17 ounces (0.5 litres) of water increases resting metabolism by 10-30% for about an hour.[13]

        This is not a surprise since our body is made up mainly by water and proper hydration is key to a fast metabolism. This calorie-burning effect may be even greater if you drink cold water, as your body uses energy to heat it up to body temperature.

        MCT Oils or Powders

        Medium-chain triglycerides or MCT have been shown to improve metabolism by stimulating Ketone production.[14] Coconut oil contains MCT fats and, when used as a replacement for cooking oil can help you improve metabolism.

        You can buy the concentrated version of MCT oils and eat it separately to further enhance this effect. Either way, coconut oil or pure MCT oil can be a great addition to your diet if you’re following a ketogenic or intermittent fasting protocol.

        Caffeine

        Caffeine and coffee have been shown to improve metabolism by improving heart rate and, therefore improving calorie consumption.[15]

        Green Tea

        Green tea

        is thought to increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation, and to reduce fat production and absorption.[16]

        Bottom Line

        In this article, I just covered the basics of food and metabolism but, there are many other non-food related things you can do to improve your metabolism, like improving your sleep quality and following certain exercise routines.

        For now, just know that making small and gradual changes to your diet can increase your metabolism and improve your general health. Starting from changing one habit at a time is always the best strategy to accomplish any goal.

        Once you improve your diet, your hydration and your supplementation you can think about testing more advanced “bio-hacks” or techniques like ice baths and fasted HIIT training.

        And remember, having a higher metabolism doesn’t only help you lose weight and keep it off but it also give you more energy and a feeling of vibrancy. If you give it time, it really is worth the investment.

        Featured photo credit: Fitsum Admasu via unsplash.com

        Reference

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