4 SMALL STEPS FOR MANAGING ANXIETY
Whether you’re dealing with the stress of homeschooling children, feeling stuck at home due to isolation, or feeling worried about the future, managing and calming anxiety is something that many of us now have to do. You’re not alone. We’re stronger together.
Here are 4 small steps you can take today to manage your anxiety.
1. Recognize your feelings.
“I am anxious and I hate this feeling”. Often defending against the feelings increases the anxiety. Simply naming it offers a distance; a place to step back and say, I do not like this feeling.
Make an image that shows your anxiety. What shape is it? What colour is it? How big is it? Take some simple crayons, markers or pencils and some paper and focus on the simple art process. Even a few minutes can be enough to notice a shift in your perspective.
2. Identify the sensations in your body. ”My chest is tight and my shoulders are stiff”.
Take a deep breath and observe what’s happening in your legs, chest, and throat.
Visualize the tension releasing, even if it feels contrived. Draw some shapes and lines that show what it might feel like with the tension fading away from your body.
3. Challenge your thoughts that drive the anxiety.
Are you fixating on a worst-case scenario? Try to reframe your thoughts into “I’m going to be okay”.
Take a piece of paper- an 8 1/2×11 sheet. Tear, fold, scrunch, and rip it into a shape that shows the worst- case scenario. Then, make a contrasting piece with another sheet of paper that reflects, “I am ok!”
4. Respond in ways that calm you rather than escalate the worry.
Imagine you’ve slept well and woken tomorrow morning feeling calm, peaceful, and relaxed.
Try the activity below. After, hang your piece in a private place in your house or apartment. Look at it whenever you notice your anxiety creeping in. Spending time engaged in making something, like an art piece, however quick or crude, helps shift the worry.
With a few old magazines, paper and gluestick, Make a collage that depicts this scene. How do you feel waking up calm and relaxed for a change? What else is different in your body? Does your environment/bedroom look brighter, clearer? What do family members notice that seems different about you?
How does art therapy help manage anxiety?
By Michelle Winkel, MA, ATR, RCAT, REAT
Michelle is a registered art therapist and clinical supervisor with the Proulx Foundation and ArtTherapy.Network.
1. It calms your mind and body.
The sensory experience of making things, whether swinging your arm vigorously to make pencil marks across the page or building a cardboard sculpture with masking tape and wire, calms the nervous system and shifts attention away from the underlying thoughts and fears that cause worry. Creativity often gives rise to hope and replaces more difficult feelings.
2. It encourages self- expression.
Connecting with your self happens naturally when making art. A deeper, more resonant self underneath the worry and fear is your true nature. In the presence of a supportive, trained art psychotherapist, this self-expression can bring insight and meaning in a safe environment.
3. It Increases self-awareness.
Making non-verbal images allows you to express complicated and difficult memories and experiences which words sometimes cannot reach. The artwork creates a safe space where emotions can be processed. The symbolism of the artwork often creates a manageable distance from the challenging events or thoughts causing anxiety.
With physical distancing, there is the risk of social isolation. Even without isolation, we all are experiencing the sense of uncertainty, worry and anxiety about our loved ones, ourselves and when this current situation will end. With this kind of stress, it can be truly perilous for those who already are experiencing anxiety, depression or other emotional issues. Even if one is not alone, family and couple tension can be compounded by children being out of school and day care and financial strains imminent.
More than ever, mental health needs to be accessible to everyone, and it is our goal to make that happen with our online art therapy sessions.
Our Virtual Art Therapy Clinic
We know many of you are experiencing stress and difficulties due to COVID-19. Our hearts go out to all who have been affected by the outbreak, and to those who are working tirelessly to ensure both mental and physical well-being for everyone.
To encourage mental and emotional well-being for all our local and global communities, we are excited to announce that we are now launching our newest initiative: a Virtual Art Therapy Clinic.
Explore your healing journey
We’re all in this together.
Partner with Us
Your organization can join forces with us to improve mental health initiatives across the globe. Contact us to discover all the ways you can support our initiatives. We are always in need of volunteers, art supplies, and services in-kind.
You can help support mental health! Your donation will go towards keeping our Virtual Art Therapy Clinic open for everyone, including those who are not able to pay for services.
Your donation of $100 or more can support a day of clinic administrative costs. With you, our outreach is further than ever.