Need To Destress? Give Art Therapy A Try
There’s no denying that 2020 has been a stressful year — and that’s putting it lightly. You’ve had a lot going on, so it’s even more crucial to keep that stress from building up and causing burnout. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses can benefit from artistic outlets to gain a sense of calm, get out of their heads, and let go of the busyness of their day.
Time alone to explore creative outlets is essential. Solitude is not only peaceful, it promotes self-healing and allows you to process thoughts and feelings you may otherwise push aside. If you’re looking for new ways to find a sense of calm, art therapy might be the perfect option.
Contrary to what you might think, you don’t have to be a professional artist to reap the mental health rewards of art therapy. Without judgement, this creative outlet allows you to:
- Express your imaginative side
- Reduce stress
- Prevent cognitive decline
- Get in touch with your feelings
All it takes is a few art supplies, patience, and some imagination. If this sounds like something you’d enjoy, consider trying one of the following:
Painting: Start with the basics: a canvas, a paintbrush (or a few of varying sizes), and acrylic paints in whatever colors you’d like. Don’t have access to those supplies? Watercolors and paper work just fine. Before touching the brush to the canvas, think about how you feel and what you want to create. Then go for it.
While not a professional artist, nurse Regina Martin, MSN, BSN, RN, uses fluid art (also called acrylic pouring) for clarity, relaxation, and peace of mind. It’s a unique process because the liquid paint is poured onto the canvas, which is then tilted so the paint colors blend and distribute across the surface.
Once you start, there’s no going back — the paint is going to do what it wants to do. But with this type of painting, you have free reign to make it whatever you’d like.
Coloring books: Who says you have to be a kid to enjoy coloring? Adults can experience the benefits, too. Not only does coloring create a sense of nostalgia for simpler times of childhood, it also gives us a creative outlet and a chance to disconnect from the chaos of everyday life.
Studies show using coloring books or free coloring on blank paper for at least 20 minutes can lower anxiety and depressive symptoms. So, if you enjoy art but want something more structured than free painting or drawing, try an adult coloring book.
Scrapbooking: Scrapbooking is another outlet that lets you express your creative side and destress. It’s also a great way to de-clutter your space and put mementos and memories to good use. Using a blend of cutting, pasting, drawing, and writing, this form of art lets you piece together pictures, stories, cards, notes, stickers, and other items in a way you can look back on with pride. Scrapbooks also make great gifts for family and friends.
Dream journaling: Did you have a dream that made you feel good? Want to remember it forever? Track it in a dream journal. Set aside a pad of paper or notebook, and whenever you have a dream, jot it down. Include what happened in the dream, who was in it, and how it made you feel. After a while, you’ll be able to look back on your dreams and identify any patterns. Reading it (and writing it) are great ways to relax and reminisce.
Try something new: There are so many potential options for art therapy. Want to learn to knit? Watch a video online to learn. Maybe you’d enjoy embroidery — order a kit and follow the instructions to learn. Take an online watercolor or drawing class. Rent a library book that explains how to do origami. Google how to make a wreath or flower arrangement and give it a try. The possibilities are endless!
Find What Works for You
As a nurse, your job is challenging — it’s easy to get caught up in things that don’t bring you calm and peace. By incorporating some kind of art therapy into your day, whether morning, midday, or evening (and even just for 10 minutes), you can reap the benefits of this relaxing form of “me-time.”
What creative outlets do you use to find peace of mind and relaxation? We’d love to hear. Share with us below or in this discussion.
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