Expressive art can be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders. The act of creating art distracts both the mind and body from overwhelming sensations brought on by anxiety; it redirects your concentration toward the process of art making.
Process art is a particularly helpful method of art therapy for people with anxiety because it lacks rigidity and rules. Process art, as opposed to product art, focuses on the experience of creation rather than the final product. Sketching a portrait of your loved one to be displayed is an example of product art. Process art may be sketching a portrait of your loved one, but it is simply for you to explore your inner experience. It may also be simply scribbling shapes on a piece of paper or creating a collage.
The freedom and lack of expectations associated with process art make it a great tool to calm and distract from anxiety symptoms, as well as to explore the underlying causes of anxiety.
When is Anxiety Too Much?
Anxiety is our bodies’ response to new or uncertain situations. Feeling anxiety before a test or job interview is completely normal, and anxiety might actually help us make better decisions or motivate us to work harder.
When someone experiences overwhelming anxiety on a daily (or almost-daily) basis, that’s a sign that there may be an anxiety disorder at play. Anxiety disorders are characterized by feelings of debilitating fear that interfere with your day-to-day activities and relationships.
There are several types of anxiety disorders:
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Phobia-related anxiety
- Panic disorders
- Social anxiety
- Separation anxiety
For people with an anxiety disorder, their anxiety might be triggered by a specific event or happen for seemingly no reason at all.
Symptoms may include:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Feelings of impending doom
- Intense fear and panic
- Trouble concentrating
- Repeated thoughts (rumination)
- Dizziness and nausea
- Tense muscles
Anxiety can be treated in a number of ways, and individuals with anxiety disorders should consult with a medical professional when choosing treatment. Talk therapy, expressive therapies (including art) and medication are some common treatments for anxiety disorders.
Some people with anxiety disorders can also benefit from at-home treatments like breathing exercises, meditation, or exercise. Expressive art exercises can also be used as an at-home treatment. Process art does not require a person to be artistically inclined or skilled.
Process Art and Anxiety
Process art is artistic creation without a clear end goal in sight. Think of it as traveling without a destination in mind. It’s all about the journey and exploration!
You might choose to display your process art around your home or dispose of it after you are finished. You can start with a prompt or wing it. There are no rules when it comes to process art—the goal is to distract yourself from your anxiety symptoms, not to worry about the quality of the final product or judge your artistic skills, as well as to process feelings and thoughts. Often, this leads to a deeper healing and insight.
Your process art can be inspired by how you are feeling or simply be random inspiration that comes to you at the moment. Not sure where to start? Here are some ideas:
- Scribble: Grab a piece of paper, a pen or pencil, and scribble whatever shapes and thoughts come to your mind.
- Watercolors: Finger paint or use a brush to combine colors.
- Sidewalk chalk: This will give you an opportunity to step outside and use a different medium than paper or canvas.
- Collage: Grab an old magazine or newspaper and glue words, patterns, and objects that appeal to you.
- Clay or play dough: Mold different shapes with your hands or cookie-cutters.
- Paint with strings or sponges: Use different tools to create unique paint patterns.
Remember that there is no end-goal to process art. Process art is about engaging your mind and body in a creative activity to explore the anxiety you are feeling. Process art allows you to lean into your ruminations for deeper healing.
If you are struggling with anxiety, don’t hesitate to reach out. We can discuss how partnering with a therapist can help you on your journey to healing.
For more information about my services in Delray Beach, FL and Sandy Springs, GA, click here Anxiety Therapy.