Top Art Therapy Activities For Stress Management

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

Pablo Picasso.

Therapy comes in many different shapes and forms. There are just as many types of therapy as the number of people opting for it. This is because treatment is personalized to the patient. One such type of therapy is art therapy. It harnesses the power of art to provide mental health benefits. Art therapy activities aim to relax and give solace to get in touch with your emotions. Creating art also inspires more confidence, as you are proud of the work you’ve created. It provides greater self-awareness through the process of creating art and analyzing the resulting artwork.

top art therapy activities to manage  stress
Top Art Therapy Activities To Help You Manage Stress

How can art therapy techniques help with stress?

Art can be a distraction from the difficulties you are facing in your personal and professional life. It helps keep you from being overwhelmed, making you more mindful as you focus on the task. It generates a state of “flow” or a state where you are present in the moment. Flow is related to higher happiness levels, productivity, and overall satisfaction.

In a culture of productivity and busy-ness, you often tend to forget the importance of play. Art therapy reminds you of this by encouraging a non-serious attitude and providing novelty that keeps your day enjoyable. Creating works of art also boosts your self-esteem and inspires you to keep going.

Art therapy exercises can help you express negative emotions without hurting yourself or those around you through sublimation. Sublimation is a psychological defense mechanism that converts urges like aggression or other anti-social behaviors into socially friendly or productive behaviors.

A  study published on Redpencil shows that art therapy aids stress relief & improves the quality of life as people can cope and deal with stressful situations more effectively. Art also makes you less judgemental and blocks the flow of overthinking.

These techniques help you be more patient, requiring time and energy. You realize that creating a masterpiece takes longer than expected and learn to wait for results.

Art Therapy Activities to Explore Your Hidden Side

1. Mandalas

Carl Jung first recommended mandalas to aid mental health. They have come to the forefront of public attention since, as they received research backing and further recommendations. They relieve stress, and in a study by Paige M. Beckwith, the art of creating mandalas is seen as an aide to mindfulness meditation. This trend has increased, as seen in an American Psychological Association(APA) study. The study also highlighted that those who practiced making mandalas could deal with trauma better than those who didn’t over time. 

2. Blind Drawing

While not all people are gifted creatively, many never come to realize their creative side. It may help to view therapeutic art as a chance to boost your creativity. Art brings out your potential and may open your path to unleashing your true potential and self-actualization.

One such creative form of art therapy is blind drawing. It is best coupled with music to engage your senses without using your eyes. In blind drawing, you can go free form and move the brush or pencil wherever you feel like or try to make a mental image of the things you’re drawing. 

There are numerous tools for painting available today and just as many painting techniques and mediums. Many collages and color books have come out to increase the ease of painting, but it is best to begin with a blank canvas. As daunting as it may seem, this helps you reap the most health benefits from the activity. Blind drawing brings out your inner creativity as it is the art of bringing a mental image to reality. It also improves your hand coordination if practiced over time.

3. Doodling

The easiest option for therapeutic art is doodling. Doodling makes your notebooks more attractive, it takes less time, and you just need to have a pen and paper to get started. While doodling, you can create comic strips and give life to the characters you draw through narrative.

4. Journaling

You can also make a journal if you wish to make art therapy a frequent activity, which many people already do. Journaling gives you a chance to be expressive through:-
– doodles and comic strips,
– stream of consciousness writing,
– beautiful mind maps,
-calligraphy, & much more.

5. Collages

These are a great entry point into art or art therapy as beginners can easily make them. Collages can encourage you to pursue more creative projects and are highly recommended if you’re just starting on the path to self-expression.

6. Scrapbook

You can keep a scrapbook for recording your therapeutic art creations. It can be fun to look back and have some nostalgia. You can also design postcards, letters, magazines, and other handy materials to channel your creativity and make your scrapbook more attractive.

7. Performance art

Performance art such as dance and theatre can also be included as a part of art therapy. Dance, in particular, increases communication skills and mind-body coordination. It can be an uplifting activity for those interested. Dancing is also a skill that can help you at parties, social events, and in your private life. It can open your way to new opportunities and add flair to your life, leading to a more holistic lifestyle.

Theatre can encourage community participation in therapy or mental health support groups and increase the reach and scope of the therapeutic practice involved. It also includes collaboration and teamwork, which can be satisfying for many. 

8. Music

Listening to, producing, or singing music is another art therapy form. Music therapy, like dance therapy, enhances communication and social skills. A study by Agnes S. Chan on also states that music training improves verbal memory. It has advantages over other learning mediums as it is more engaging and captures attention easily. It helps in self-regulation and increasing motivation.

9. Textile art

Embroidery and sewing (Textile) can also be used as art forms to create something spectacular and new that hasn’t been done before. A study by E. William on also states the benefits of activities like art, yoga, and sewing. It is a mindful activity that involves paying attention to what you’re doing, and you can show off your artwork anytime by wearing it, of course.

10. Sculpture

Sculpture is another art form used for therapeutic purposes, but it is not very popular due to limited access compared to the other types. Still, sculpture generates creativity and creates artwork with a greater life span. You can make small figures or artifacts and gift them to your friends.

11. Taking photos

Photography, going out, and trying to see the world through a different lens(literally) can uplift your daily mood. Photography is one of the emerging or unconventional forms of art therapy, yet it is nonetheless worth a try.

12. Digital Artwork

The emergence of digital art forms and virtual reality has long been speculated to be a trend in art therapy. It is proposed and assumed that online communities would start using digital art for art therapy, community interaction, and mental health. The trend is encouraged because counseling and talk therapy have already become available and successful online. A study by Frontiersin states the emerging role of digital art in aiding the practice of art therapy. It can include art therapy activities like:

-creating artworks,
-paintings digitally,
-using digital coloring books and apps,
-meme or image collage creation,
-image manipulation & many more.

There are a variety of coloring therapy workbooks available online for free. These can help unleash your creative side and are only a click away.

You can also go out of the box to create art with natural objects, recycled items, or something nobody has thought of before. Thinking about these possibilities will give you more motivation to produce better artwork.

Note: Organic Art is created by using sustainable or eco-friendly materials. Depending on sources, you can procure these materials at a similar cost, if not for free or cheaper. Using organic art benefits the planet or prevents it from some harm.

When to do art therapy activities?

Ideally, you can set up a time or schedule some minutes each day per your needs to pursue art therapy activities. The best time for creativity and play-like activities can be influenced by how you sleep, wake up, and conduct your day. As for the duration of art activities, an ordinary group therapy session with adults can last from 45 minutes to one hour and include additional time for discussion. It can also be affected by your self-care routine.

Who are art therapy activities for?

Art therapy techniques are for anyone and everyone, and you have the right to enjoy and participate in this self-expression. But several studies have also shown to benefit people suffering from specific ailments. These include:-

-A study by Uttur. O demonstrated how children with learning difficulties could be aided by including art therapy with or as a part of their education.

A study by ScienceDirect shows that art therapy provides people with Dementia with another way of communication. It also increases their attention and gives them a direction they can focus on.

A study by Cambridge University shows that people suffering from a chronic or terminal illness may benefit from hands-on creativity.


Art therapy for stress can help you recover and cope with various mental health conditions. It has numerous health benefits, such as increasing mindfulness and flow, allowing yourself to be more present, and blocking the way for negative or intrusive thoughts. You can pursue art therapy with various techniques, such as making collages, keeping a journal or a scrapbook, or participating in music or dance therapy.

Now that you’ve begun understanding how art activities for stress relief aid you, here are some apps for better quality stress management in your daily life.

Subscribe to Your Mental Health Pal for more advice on art therapy and stress relief to lead a more comfortable and satisfying life. 

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