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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 March 25, 2020

                                          How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

                                          How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

                                          When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you.

                                          So, how to live longer? Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life

                                          1. Exercise

                                          It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.

                                          2. Drink in Moderation

                                          I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity.[1] Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.

                                          3. Reduce Stress in Your Life

                                          Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

                                          4. Watch Less Television

                                          A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t.[2] It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.

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                                          Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.

                                          5. Eat Less Red Meat

                                          Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.[3] Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.

                                          If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.

                                          6. Don’t Smoke

                                          This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.

                                          7. Socialize

                                          Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity.[4] Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.

                                          8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

                                          Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease[5] and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.[6] Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of Omega-3s.

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                                          9. Be Optimistic

                                          Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists.[7] Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.

                                          10. Own a Pet

                                          Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease.[8] Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.

                                          11. Drink Coffee

                                          Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life.[9] Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.

                                          12. Eat Less

                                          Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.

                                          13. Meditate

                                          Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure.[10] Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity.[11]

                                          Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.

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                                          How to meditate? Here’re 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

                                          14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

                                          Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease.[12] It may also increase the risk of cancer.[13] Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.

                                          15. Laugh Often

                                          Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.

                                          16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

                                          Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.

                                          17. Cook Your Own Food

                                          When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.

                                          Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.

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                                          18. Eat Mushrooms

                                          Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[14]

                                          19. Floss

                                          Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.[15]

                                          20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

                                          Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.

                                          Find out more antiosidants-rich foods here: 13 Delicious Antioxidant Foods That Are Great for Your Health

                                          21. Have Sex

                                          Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease.[16] It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!

                                          More Health Tips

                                          Featured photo credit: Sweethearts/Patrick via flickr.com

                                          Reference

                                          [1] Wiley Online Library: Late‐Life Alcohol Consumption and 20‐Year Mortality
                                          [2] BMJ Journals: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis
                                          [3] Arch Intern Med.: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality
                                          [4] PLOS Medicine: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
                                          [5] JAMA: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
                                          [6] NCBI: Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function with Aging, Dementia, and Neurological Diseases: Summary
                                          [7] Mayo Clinic Proc: Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period.
                                          [8] Med Hypotheses.: Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease.
                                          [9] The New England Journal of Medicine: Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
                                          [10] American Journal of Hypertension: Blood Pressure Response to Transcendental Meditation: A Meta-analysis
                                          [11] Science Direct: Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators
                                          [12] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
                                          [13] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
                                          [14] African Journal of Biotechnology: Anti-cancer effect of polysaccharides isolated from higher basidiomycetes mushrooms
                                          [15] Science Direct: Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study
                                          [16] AHA Journals: Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

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