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Last Updated on January 3, 2018

20 Art Therapy Activities You Can Try At Home To Destress

20 Art Therapy Activities You Can Try At Home To Destress

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” – Pablo Picasso

Art therapy is a broad term used to refer to the practice of creating as a way to heal wounds of the mind or spirit. While art therapists are employed with increasing frequency at hospitals, nursing homes, in schools, and in treatment programs for a wide swatch of ailments, the rejuvenating, stress-busting results of such a practice are something we can all benefit from.

Invite your creative side out to dance with these 20 art therapy ideas you can pursue at home:

Design a postcard.

http://chelswireart.blogspot.com/2011/04/art-therapy-without-borders.html

    Have something to say? Give your words extra dimension by literally decorating them yourself. Writing to a person who caused you pain? Consider burning or otherwise destroying the postcard when you’re finished, as a symbol of your decision to move forward. Have the need to send it, but don’t want to invite them back into your life? Mail your anonymous thoughts to Post Secret.

    Give thanks with cards of your own.

    TY card

      Focus on words and thoughts of gratitude, of your own design. Pick up a stack of blank cards and envelopes at a paper or craft store, or simply embellish a pre-made card. Consider offering thanks to those helping you through current troubles, or those who have helped you in the past. Already said “thanks” in person? A card is nice way to let folks know that they made a lasting impact.

      Cut and paste a collage.

      Collage

        Not sure what to do with those advertisements and circulars scattered around the house? Take a pair of scissors to them, and let your imagination run wild. If you are seeking encouragement in a particular area – love, finances, body image, and so on – zero in on images that cause you to feel uplifted and positive, or ones that embody your goals. Use them as pieces of the larger puzzle of both your collage and healing.

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        Make a digital collage.

        Digital collage

          Short on art supplies, or simply more of a computer person? Fire up your laptop, and download one of many free collage programs. You can create a collage from your own photographs and memories, or conduct an online search to find images that resonate with you. Programs such as Photoshop will provide the most options, but more rudimentary programs such as Photoshop Elements, PowerPoint or some Adobe platforms offer enough for a first effort.

          Draw in response to music.

          Music drawing

            Music is a form of art that is often said to move souls. Energize, relax, and otherwise give attention to yours by simply putting a pen or pencil to paper and moving it as the rhythm dictates. Sharp, staccato music may prompt you to draw jagged edges or bold lines; softer rhythms may encourage you to draw waves. Instrumental music is generally a more effective stress-buster than music with lyrics, because the mind is allowed to relax without distraction. If more formalized or finite images begin to emerge, allow it – the point of the exercise is to allow for creation without expectation or restraint.

            Bring a motivational message to a colorful life.

            Visual Journaling

              Do you have a phrase or saying that makes you feel uplifted?  Cut the words out of magazines and arrange an encouraging display. Don’t have a “go to” phrase? Find generic words, such as “happy,” “joy,” “inspire,” and start with a general display of words. Crack open old journals for inspiration, or start a new art journal for your new creations.

              Move those magnetic words around.

              Fridge art

                There is art in manipulating the written word, too. Tap into your inner poet and give yourself something nice to read every time you open the refrigerator door, with fridge art. A box of words can be rearranged in a seemingly infinite number of combinations. For only a few dollars, pick up boxes with theme-based verbiage, or boxes that include graphic images. Running low on inspiration?   Post a poem or story that resonates with you – just because someone else is the author, doesn’t mean you can’t still reap the relaxing rewards.

                Bedazzle the box.

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                Box

                  Most of us have a box of memorabilia tucked away somewhere (or bits of memorabilia scattered everywhere). Get organized and give your treasures a facelift by literally decorating the box you keep them in. Decor can be specific to a set of memories or time period, or more general. Decorating a box is also a great way to add to a time capsule or memory box given as a gift.

                  Create an affirmation you can carry with you.

                  wearable

                    Gain a more frequent boost from your art therapy efforts by creating a product that you can literally carry with you. Whether it’s a piece of jewelry, an article of clothing, or a key chain, choose images, words, and colors that remind you of how and what you want to feel. Not sure how to begin? Attend a class at a local craft store or gallery to get the creative juices flowing and brush up on techniques.

                    Brighten up old clothing.

                    pattern clothing

                      Working through feelings of unworthiness or low self-esteem? Wish you had the budget to completely overhaul your wardrobe? Get thee to the craft store! Spend $20-$50 on beads, bows, even a bedazzler, and give items you already own an update worthy of fabulous you. Have a bit more to spend, and already know your way around the business end of a sewing machine? Pick up a pattern for a new item of clothing, or a book on an easy-to-learn craft, such as knitting.

                      Color it real.

                      Chart

                        Your feelings, that is. Select colored pencils in accordance with what draws you the most, then check out how they correspond to this chart. Don’t overanalyze or think too much about what your choices might “mean.” By taking a second look at your art after it is created, you may gain valuable insight into your underlying feelings.

                        Map out your heart.

                        heart map

                          At a loss for a place to start with art therapy? Go to the source, and a draw a picture of your heart – literally. Fill in the shape with images of the things you desire, dream of, and love.You can find photos, or simply assign a colored section to each corresponding desire. However you do it, your heart will be full both literally and figuratively by the time you finish this exercise.

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                          Capture pain in chalk…

                          Chalk - featured

                            …then wash it away. While one purpose of art therapy is to purge the mind and heart of negative, past, or unwanted emotions, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to create a permanent monument to such emotions. Resolve this dilemma by pouring out your thoughts in chalk. When you’re finished, anything you no longer wish to carry can be literally washed away.

                            Sculpt a better state.

                            play dough

                              Sculpturing doesn’t have to require a lot of space or materials. Make your own play-dough with a few simple ingredients (conduct a quick online search for a variety of recipes), then let your hands and your imagination soar. The malleable stuff is ideal for exploring emotions that you want to work through, without making permanent; anger can even be unleashed when you smash your creation flat. Ready to relax? Mix essential oils into the dough for some aromatherapy. Store leftovers in the fridge for use during your next session.

                              Give art therapy a hand.

                              hand art

                                Use fingerprints to create in a way that unlocks the child in all of us, and provides additional texture to explore. Or, trace your hand and use the colors and textures of your choice to illustrate the things you hope your hands will create. Really need to let loose? Dip your hands in paint and slap some prints on the paper! The release of energy may be just the healing you need.

                                Not feeling drawn to the more traditional arts?  Try one of these, and continue to reap the healing rewards:

                                Redecorate a room.

                                redecorate

                                  It is often said that healing occurs with even more speed and intensity when the external environment is adapted to facilitate and reflect healing. Burn off extra energy and adapt your environment to your needs by rearranging furniture, ridding your space of old things, and adding punches of uplifting color and texture. Remember to save room for vision boards, affirmations, and other products of your art therapy time.

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                                  Gather with friends, and create in public.

                                  Group art

                                    Hesitant to dive into the art world? Gather a group of friends and explore together. Art groups, like book clubs, meet regularly to explore different media and forms of expression at each gathering. Sound like too much of a commitment?  Studios are popping up around the country that allow groups to create under the guidance of an experienced teacher, while enjoying both wine and food at the same time.

                                    String prayer or meditation beads.

                                    Prayer beads

                                      Take a trip to a local craft store and select beads that appeal to you. Remember to grab line for your string and a clasp if desired; fishing line can also work in a pinch. The beads can be of similar shape and color pattern, or can be random. If you intend to carry your prayer beads with you, select beads that are small enough to fit into a pocket or purse. Not finding what you want? A specialty bead store may have more options.

                                      Rake the sand.

                                      Sand raking

                                        Whether you’re taking a fork to a plate of sand on your desk or hauling a truck full of tools to the beach, raking patterns is a good way to release emotions in an economical, non-permanent sense. Your creation can be a deliberate piece, or simply a series of geometric shapes that help you blow off steam. For an added shot of healing power, work on a large enough scale that the physical exertion required to wield your rake both calms and burns off excess energy or anxiety.

                                        Help something grow.

                                        Garden

                                          Gardening is an art form that employs plants as paint and your hands as tools. Whether you build your garden in a small tabletop bowl, or take over an entire hillside for your colorful creation, let your imagination soar. Don’t know much about plants? Spend some time at a local nursery and find out what grows best in your area, and what care requirements are realistic for you. Peruse local books or visit several plant sellers to gather ideas for your arrangement.

                                          Need some convincing that art therapy is a good choice for you?  Consider these 10 Things You Never Knew You Could Learn From Art.

                                          Featured photo credit: Chalk Drawings at Third Street via flickr.com

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                                          Last Updated on August 15, 2018

                                          7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

                                          7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

                                          Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

                                          Video Summary

                                          Why is it important to train up our core strength?

                                          There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

                                          This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

                                          Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

                                          In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

                                          One Exercise, multiple benefits

                                          There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

                                          By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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                                          When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

                                          Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

                                          In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

                                          What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

                                          What will happen when you start doing planks every day

                                            1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

                                            Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

                                            • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
                                            • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
                                            • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
                                            • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

                                            2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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                                              Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

                                              Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

                                              3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

                                                Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

                                                4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

                                                  Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

                                                  A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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                                                  A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

                                                  On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

                                                  5. You’ll improve overall balance

                                                    Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

                                                    6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

                                                      Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

                                                      7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                                                        Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                                                        How to hold a plank position

                                                        1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                                                        2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                                                        3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                                                        4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                                                        5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                                                        6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                                                        7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                                                        Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                                                        Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                                                          How to improve your plank time gradually

                                                          1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                                                          2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                                                          3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                                                          Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                                                          Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                                                          You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                                                          • Prolapse
                                                          • After prolapse surgery
                                                          • Pelvic pain conditions
                                                          • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                                                          • Previous childbirth
                                                          • Overweight

                                                          Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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