Art is an incredible tool to use when you feel depressed. It is a way to divert thoughts about your pain temporarily to get some relief. It can also encourage you to feel some pleasure, at the same time you feel depressed. It can include watching a form of entertainment, listening to music, or even creating a piece of visual art.
When I was in the hospital being treated for depression, there was great emphasis on art as a tool to escape and ease symptoms of mental and physical pain.
How art therapy can help relieve depression
Here are some of the art activities I used as therapeutic tools:
I listened to music and was able to get some enjoyment from life. The words helped me focus my thoughts. I listened to songs that reminded me that life would get better.
I watched funny shows. Even when I couldn’t laugh I could appreciate that these shows were funny. I remembered what it was like to enjoy the shows when I was healthy. I remembered how pleasurable they were.
Visual art projects helped me escape from negative thoughts. I created art pieces that made me feel as sense of a accomplishment at a time in my life where my body and energy levels restrained my actions.
Using visual art therapy:
I found visual art projects to be the most helpful for depression. Though, there are times that using art as a therapeutic tool can be frustrating. Here are some rules to help you using art to relieve symptoms of depression:
Here are the rules for using art as therapy:
- Choose a simple art task: Don’t try to create a masterpiece if you are not a regularly practiced artist, and especially if you think you have no artistic skill. That’s not what this is about. It’s about losing yourself in a project that requires you to focus on something beautiful and inspiring. Choose an art project that a Grade 3 student would do such as: Coloring a picture, painting with your fingers, or painting a piece of clay.
- Keep it to yourself unless you feel like sharing. Creating a piece of art for the purpose of therapy and enjoyment can be personal. You don’t need to make something you think other people will love. It’s more about exploration. You don’t need to share your piece. If you want to go for it. But make sure you are comfortable with constructive criticism.
- Stop if you get frustrated. If the project you chose is making you irritable, angry, or mad at yourself, it’s time to stop. Clearly this isn’t a relaxing process. Stop. Throw away the piece you are working on (or come back to it another time) and start again later.
If you’re interested in losing your mind in art, here is list of suggested projects. It’s hard to go wrong with these art projects:
- Paint ceramics. Go an art supply store and purchase a piece of clay that inspires you. Buy some acrylic paints and clear glaze.
- Get a coloring book and color in a pictures.
- Purchase a paint by numbers kit.
- Use acrylic paints on a canvas, and props, like plastic forks and knives, to make paint an abstract picture.
- Learn how to Zentangle. It’s very relaxing design technique. Anyone can create a beautiful picture.