A rather curious scene unfolds in front of you, in the form of grown adults hunched over the intricate pages of a colouring book, grasping a colour pencil in hand while filling in a tiny quartered section of a mandala with utmost concentration.
It may sound odd to those new to the notion, but adults reaching for colouring books (seen an influx of a book titled Secret Garden in stores recently?) mirror a new trend – the rising prominence of using colouring as a way to banish anxiety and attain mindfulness.
Although therapists have been adamant and critical over the role of colouring as a form of art therapy, anecdotal evidence prove otherwise; but regardless, it has thrust the concept of creative therapy into the eyes of many, despite it being regularly integrated by therapists in their sessions. Creative endeavours are often considered therapeutic, and here are some ways to unleash your creativity while destressing at the same time in the new year:
When you feel stress, anger and anxiety boiling and bubbling inside of you and clouding up your thoughts, journaling is a healthy, easy method of diffusing an overwhelmed mind. Journaling not only helps to clarify your thoughts, it’s also empowering – reading the physical counterpart of your thoughts allows you to gain a better perspective of yourself and your situation as a whole, and may lead to better conflict resolution and self-awareness as well.
University of Texas psychologist and researcher James Pennebaker contends that regular journaling strengthens immune cells, called T-lymphocytes, and he believes that writing about stressful events helps one to come to terms with it as well. Set realistic goals and write in a way that feels natural and comfortable to you – if you’re not one for expressing thoughts in long paragraphs, jotting down small notes of your everyday life, scribbling down random observations and making lists all work well too. Write away without the fear of judgement or censor!
Any form of arts and craft!
Experiment with creative expression through several forms of arts and craft – either go traditional with painting or sketching, or be a little more hands–on with craftwork such as scrapbooking, pottery, crocheting, and woodworking. The process of creating through these crafts has many potential therapeutic applications such as: motor control, sensory and perceptual stimulation, cognitive challenges, and enhanced self-esteem and sense of efficacy. It’s often encouraged because it also allows an individual to find peace while calming their frazzled thoughts, thus decreasing their anxiety levels. Those engaged with crafts were found to be able to contribute to the maintenance or reconstruction of a positive self-identity, as visual communication is able to reveal materials and symbols that cannot be expressed through words as well.
The world is filled with infinite locations that are able to showcase the natural beauty of the world, providing us with an endless stream of visual inspirations. Immortalize them through the camera lens, and put yourself into a state of inner tranquillity by feasting your eyes on these documented memories that are able to invoke both feelings of inspiration and hope. Photography is another simple way of melting away anxiety as it shifts your focus onto something more productive. You don’t have to be a professional or own a state-of-the-art camera model to take good pictures – use it as a creative outlet to take what you feel like photographing instead.
Gardening and Landscaping
Even if you don’t have a green thumb, the sensory experience of gardening has been described by James Jiler (founder and executive director of Urban GreenWorks) as being able to allow ‘people to connect to this primal state’ (of) reclaiming some of the intangible things we’ve lost in our hectic lives. If potted house plants aren’t your thing, terrariums and the quirky Japanese trend of a suspended kokedama (moss ball) are other alternatives to getting some greens into your scenery. Inject your individuality and creativity into the layout of your garden to suit your own personal style and home! Being in-tune with nature not only allows you to reap the benefits of being able to feast on your own fresh produce, it’s also a pretty dang good way of relieving stress as well. A recent study in the Netherlands has discovered that gardening can fight stress better than other leisure activities – so green up your home for a stress-free you too!