Art Therapy Projects That You Can Do To De-Stress (Tips From Therapists)


Art therapy is a form of stress relief and is widely used to encourage creativity at the same time, release negative emotions. It is a form of self-expression that can be fun and therapeutic. It allows an individual to use art as a form of communication that makes this method different from other types of therapy, according to therapists.

“Art therapy as a practice has been shown to help people reduce their stress with regular use. This type of therapy allows people to use different media and the creative process to engage their mind and explore their feelings, and can be practiced informally by yourself or formally with an art therapist,” says Natalia S. David, Psy.D, an Assistant Professor in Psychology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

The best thing about this is that you do not have to be an artist to do this form of art. These exercises do not focus on the product itself but from the therapeutic elements that come with making the art. It is both a meditative ritual and art itself in one activity, and it will boost your mental health in no time.

Design A Postcard.

Writing a love letter that you are scared to say in person or writing all your rants can be therapeutic by itself. The designing process of the postcard gives all the areas of your brain a bit of exercise that will also help in relaxation. And as you throw away or hide the card, you’ll realize that those words will no longer have any effect to you.

Make A Collage.

First, draw or paint on a piece of paper or cardboard. After you have done that, cut or tear your art into smaller pieces and make another artwork in the form of a collage. This helps you practice the art of creation and destruction and the beauty in combining the two aspects. This shows that in life, there comes a time where you only see the damage and see the beauty that comes with it and how you can start from that destruction and make it into a work of art.

Create An Altar.

This is a project you can make to commemorate a relationship with a loved one, alive or dead. You can do any design you want and add pieces that remind you of the love you both share. It helps you relive memories that you two enjoyed and remind you to always choose love in times where you are in doubt.

Draw In The Dark.

Sometimes, the reason why we get scared of doing something is that we always think we get judged, and instead of continuing, we only have self-doubt. Drawing in the dark liberates you from judgment and criticism, even those from yourself for you cannot see what you are drawing and are only expressing yourself using your emotions.

Do Watercolor Painting.

Try to imagine the colors as you breathe in and out. What color enters your body, and what color comes out? Which part of your body has the densest shade, and which part do you think has the most opaque? Now, replicate that in watercolor painting and translate that into a piece of paper. This can be the most honest and relaxing art you could do.


Try Zentangle Art.

Zentangle is a form of art that was created for meditation that can be accessible to everyone. A zentangle teacher usually teaches this, but you can try this out too. The patterns you see and create allows you to create your own and makes you realize that mistakes are okay. Though zentangle art is usually black and white, you can freely use colors to create your artwork.

“Repetitive creative work, in and of itself, can be calming and self-soothing. In fact, some of the preliminary research on the Zentangle process indicates that engagement in the process has measurable relaxation benefits,” shares Cathy Malchiodi PhD, LPCC, LPAT, ATR-BC, REAT, an art therapist, visual artists, and research psychologist.

Give Yourself A Permission Slip.

Think of something like a thought, or an action that you are conscious about, or a flaw you have that hinders your self-growth. With that, write yourself a permission slip that allows you to feel or do these things, that will uplift you so you can focus on other essential things.

Write A ‘Found’ Poem.

Start by cutting out words from magazines, newspapers, or old books and make a collage with these words put together as a poem or story. If you think you’re not good with words, you can ask someone for help. See how and where collaging can take you and how therapeutic it can be for you.

Use A Mark Making Tool.

Instead of the usual paintbrush, why not make a unique tool for your artworks? This tool can be made out of anything you want that would help you create a new pattern or texture that would add depth and personality to your artworks and at the same time, be therapeutic too.


Make A Forgiveness Box.

If you have negative feelings to someone, making a box full of positive memories for that person will let you look back and see the time when you were all good. This can help you take a step further into forgiveness and will help ease the pain you are feeling.

“True forgiveness goes a step further,” Bob Enright, PhD, a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison says, “offering something positive—empathy, compassion, understanding—toward the person who hurt you. That element makes forgiveness both a virtue and a
powerful construct in positive psychology.”