Dr. Shivani Vakilwala

Medical officer &Certified Therapeutic Art Life Coach

Healing can be in several forms, not only physically but also mentally. Some individuals heal by expressing their inner feelings in the form of art. Whether one creates art or views it, it helps people explore emotions, develop self – awareness and relieve their stress.

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Therapeutic Art is a subset of Art therapy, the main difference between the two is that Art therapy can be used as one of the treatments for several mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress disorder etc whereas Therapeutic Art is using art to support the journey of life, expressing one’s emotions and connecting with them.

Let’s dive into some of the advantages of Therapeutic Art exercises-

  1. Helps in managing emotions in a positive way and boosts confidence.
  2. Increases in self expression, intuition.
  3. Have a better understanding of one’s own mind and how to use principles of psychology to control one’s own thoughts.
  4. Stepping stone to create a tangible picture of your visions and dreams.

Let me show you some fun exercises for you to de- stress and help unwind –

  1. Beautiful mess- In this exercise all you have to do is take a pen and a paper, listen to your favourite song or any music that helps you calm down and draw random spirals on the paper. Once that is done you can colour the spaces or draw patterns in between with either the same pen or any colours that uplift your mood. This exercise helps in unwinding and supressing one’s anxiety. You can even do this with eyes closed!

This is just one of the few I made to unwind.

2. Making a mandala or filling in colours in mandala books – Mandala is a Sanskrit word which means a circle or completion. The “circle with a centre” pattern is a basic structure of creation. Creating a mandala is like creating a portrait of yourself.

3. De stress with Finger painting – Did you think it was only for kids? Try finger painting and you will feel like you are reliving your childhood. Any sensory exercise like pottery or finger painting helps a lot in de stressing and rejuvenating.

This is one of the finger paintings also using patterns.

4. Activity of letting it go! Draw a bunch of balloons, in each balloon write about the things that make you anxious or upset. Imagine with your eyes closed that you are holding these balloons in your hands and then slowly imagine releasing them and the balloons floating away in air acknowledging negative emotions going farther away from you. This is one of the exercises of mindful doodling involving your imagination.

During the COVID 19 pandemic when there was just so much chaos, stress, anxiety and fear I learnt and practiced Therapeutic Art. Everyday I would wake up with some fear, what if I lose my loved ones in this pandemic? What if there is no end to this pandemic? These thoughts would just constantly haunt me and then finally one day I thought why not do something constructive, something I like to do and that is paint or sketch. It did help infact it worked wonders and that’s when I went in the depths of using art as therapy and its advantages.

Next time that you are feeling low, anxious or if any thoughts bother you just pick a pen make a random doodle or pattern or just draw a jar on a paper and draw all your wishes in that jar and it will make you feel so delightful, at peace and connected with your inner self. Just Art it Out!

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This article is a part of the 39th edition of the online medical magazine by Lexicon, to read the edition further, please visit this link.

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