Stress and anxiety are common challenges that many students face in their academic and personal lives. They can negatively affect students’ learning and well-being by impairing their concentration, memory, motivation, and self-esteem. However, there are effective ways to cope with stress and anxiety through creative expression.
Art therapy is a form of therapy that uses art-making as a tool for healing and growth. It can help students express their emotions, calm their nervous system, break the cycle of rumination, and release stress and blockages in the brain stem. Here are three low-prep art activities that can help students with stress and anxiety:
- Colors of My Heart
- Mind-Body Connection
- Bilateral Scribbles.
These activities are easy to implement in the classroom or at home and require minimal materials and skills.
Colors of My Heart
The first activity is called colors of my heart. It involves drawing a heart on paper and filling it up with different colors that represent the emotions one is feeling at the moment¹.
For example, one might use red for anger, blue for sadness, yellow for happiness, green for calmness, etc. The purpose of this activity is to help students identify and express their feelings without words¹. This can be beneficial for students who struggle with verbal communication or who feel overwhelmed by their emotions.
According to Healthline.com, “Art therapy refers to any use of art for a therapeutic purpose, including relief from anxiety and stress.” One of the benefits of art therapy is that it can help people tune in and express painful or difficult feelings they have trouble putting into words.
By using colors as symbols, students can communicate their inner state more easily than with words alone. Moreover, drawing inside a heart shape can create a sense of safety and containment for students who feel vulnerable or exposed by their emotions.
This activity shows how art therapy can help students cope with stress and anxiety by allowing them to express their emotions in a creative and non-judgmental way.
The second activity to reduce stress and anxiety is called the mind-body connection. It involves drawing an outline of one’s body on paper and coloring or writing inside it what one feels physically or mentally.
For example, one might color the head red if they have a headache, the chest blue if they feel anxious, the stomach green if they feel nauseous, etc. The purpose of this activity is to help students break the cycle of rumination and tension between the mind and body.
According to Psych Central, “When people experience anxiety, they are overwhelmed with negative thoughts and worry.” This can create a feedback loop between the mind and body, where negative thoughts trigger physical symptoms, reinforcing negative thoughts.
By drawing an outline of one’s body and filling it up with colors or words, students can become more aware of how their thoughts affect their physical sensations.. This can help them interrupt the cycle of rumination and relax both their mind and body.
This activity shows how art therapy can help students cope with stress and anxiety by helping them understand and manage the connection between their mind and body.
The third activity is called bilateral scribbles. It involves scribbling on paper using both hands simultaneously.
For example, one might use two crayons or markers of different colors to make random lines or shapes on paper. The purpose of this activity is to help students release stress and blockages in the brain stem.
According to Edutopia, bilateral scribbles activate both hemispheres of our brain simultaneously. This can stimulate neural pathways that may be blocked due to trauma or stress. Using both hands at once, students can access parts of their brains that may be otherwise inaccessible through verbal expression. This can help them process unresolved emotions or memories contributing to their stress or anxiety.
This activity shows how art therapy can help students cope with stress or anxiety by helping them release pent-up energy or emotions through bilateral movement.
In conclusion, art therapy is an effective way to cope with stress or anxiety through creative expression. It can help students express their emotions.
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