by Kerry Hart
The limitless ways of artful expression provide ample opportunities for anyone to express their creative side. While most of you can recall the joy felt at the completion of a simple drawing or a play-dough sculpture as a child, expressing yourself through creation as an adult may not be as prominent. Expression is critical to identity, and being in tune with your feelings is essential to reducing stress. Be sure to take a moment this weekend, or even today, to work on your stress depletion by doing something you truly enjoy.
Alleviating stress through art expression works by:
1. Distracting you from your stressor.
Even if it’s for a few minutes, getting your mind off of the topic will release built up tension and may reap a clearer head for better problem solving.
2. Getting into an undisrupted flow.
Allowing yourself to completely engulf in a creation, whether it is the family’s next meal or a paper-clip house at your desk, brings you to a near-meditative state, which can reduce blood pressure and deplete excess mind activity.
3. Building confidence in you.
Taking the time to do an activity or hobby that you enjoy is a form of self-care. It promotes balance, encourages personal endeavors, and builds your individual independence.
A Few Artful Suggestions
These bits of advice may have you on your way to a more balanced (and stress reduced!) lifestyle:
Be a Culinary Queen.
If cooking is your thing, be sure to whip up a favorite dish this weekend, or maybe even try a new recipe from your favorite cookbook. Following set directions can be calming in that it takes the guesswork out. You no longer have to make a decision on what is next, but instead, get to bask in the comfort of following already proven steps to success. Once your creation is completed, you also get the satisfaction of eating it!
Visual arts have long been applauded for having a hand in reducing anxiety. Be it painting, drawing, or sculpting, you will be able to find your bliss in your creativity. Create a sketch diary or invest in an easel for your garden. Various brush strokes and colors can assist in getting your emotions out of your head and into a more productive and healthy form of coping. Instead of repressing emotion that needs to be let out, be sure to express yourself, even if it is not verbally.
Purge your Conscious.
Writing your feelings is perhaps the most understood method of expression. Remember that your writing doesn’t have to rival Maya Angelou’s; simply write your worries or thoughts when you wake up in the morning or scribble a recap of your day before bed. Putting thoughts on paper is a way to dismiss them from your brain while still allowing you to access those particular feelings whenever you choose to go back and reflect.
Use Your Green Thumb.
Many of your neighbors may be out and about working on their yards and lawns during this warmer season, and I encourage you to join them! Using your hands to accomplish something as small as putting a plant in the ground also provides many therapeutic effects. Then, take a moment and sit in the silence of your accomplishment.
Belt it Out.
Singing has often been more of a go-to in the shower than out in public, but that does not make it a less effective form of stress relief. Using this creative form of stress reduction will help you express yourself without putting a strain on your bank account or your emotional health. Pick a tune that marks how you are feeling in the moment and belt it out! Who cares if you are off key? In this moment, you are relieving stress and making your world a better place.
Let Your Body Talk.
Perhaps you are not feeling particularly verbal in rough moments. At this point, I encourage you to dance it out. If you are unable to grab some friends and head downtown to your favorite dance spot, turn your living room into your favorite type of club. Turn the music up, close your eyes, and move like no one is watching. Expressing your emotions through physical activity, such as dancing or even exercise, will quickly turn that frown upside down.
These are just a few ideas that will help make your world a little less stressful. Doing what you love can decrease stress, increase energy, and promote positivity in your life. Whether you choose to do these things alone, with a partner or with a group, you will be filtering your emotions in a healthy way. Make your world a better, less stressful place by doing what you love.
Kerry Hart, LLMFT is a family therapist located within Grand Rapids Natural Health. She specializes in the treatment of children, teens, couples, and families.