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Using Art For Mental Health

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Creative outlets are always a great coping skill for stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns.

 In last week’s post, we talked about removing the mask of mental illness and highlighted a veteran’s art program that encouraged returning service members to craft an artistic rendering of their mask.  This week, we’re going to throw out some ideas on ways to use artistic and creative expression as a coping skill.

The creative process itself is one the begins with motivation and, oftentimes, doing things when you don’t necessarily feel like it.  Motivation is a struggle which everyone faces, however, mental illness can add several other dimensions and barriers to following through with your intentions.  For those with mental illness, practicing art a few times a week can help with their own resilience and motivation in terms of following through with commitments which you make to yourself.

Ideas For Using Artistic Expression For Improving Mental Health

  • Revisit an old instrument.  Many people used to play an instrument in their youth.  Why not pick it up again?  A lot of times, playing an old instrument is like riding a bike– it might take a few practice sessions, but it will come back quickly.  If you’ve never played an instrument before, consider picking up a used guitar.  There are a variety of free resources on the Internet for learning the basics.
  • Get a drawing pad and sketch.  You can pick out a scene from your everyday life or go freestyle and doodle something far out.  Consider visiting a park and sketching a scene, painting it, or using colored pencils.
  • Collage is a great way to get into art even for people who don’t have a lick of creative talent.  Cut out scenes and pictures from your favorite magazines or local events and paste them onto a piece of cardboard.  Turn it into something meaningful by including a mantra or positive affirmation to help you through the tough times.
  • Take up photography.  Create a weekly goal for yourself to shoot once a week.  Keep your interest by crafting different projects and posting your favorite photo each week.  One week could be doing your best landscape and the other could be a self-portrait.  Here’s a list of ideas for different photography assignments. 
  •  If you are Internet savvy, get on Pinterest and check out arts and crafts ideas.  Here, you can store an online file for images or projects that you like.  Many of the links will give you instructions on how to complete the project yourself.  Many projects can be done with common household items and at a low cost.

Any type of artistic or creative expression can help reduce stress and improve one’s ability to cope with negative emotions.  However, there’s a lot of folks who don’t consider themselves to be artistic or the “creative type” and that limits them from venturing out to do something that, in the long, run may be supremely beneficial.  Regardless of what you do to cope with mental illness or just plain stress, make sure that it’s something you’re committed to doing no matter what.  In the long run, consistency will lead to better health and wellness and that’s what we’re after more than anything else.  If you need help overcoming mental illness or just want to know more, we have branches in Baton Rouge and the Covington communities.  Please don’t hesitate to give us a call today.

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