Anxiety is a potentially crippling mood disorder with various symptoms that reduce the quality of life. In some cases, anxiety may lead to full-blown panic attacks that cause individuals to worry excessively or go still in fear. Anxiety has been underreported and insufficiently treated while swept under the carpet as a trivial issue.
Panic disorders also go by the term “fight-or-flight” reaction. Symptoms like elevated heartbeats dilated pupils, and profuse sweating may occur as the body reacts to a perceived threat. As such, anxiety symptoms show that a person’s natural defense mechanism is functioning well!
While anxiety may result from environmental factors (i.e., stage fright, preparing for a major exam, or prepping for a job interview), some individuals seemingly face anxiety for no rhyme or reason - an issue known as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
Over 40 million adults in America face some form of anxiety. While adults may respond to their lingering symptoms with a plethora of coping mechanisms (therapy, distractions, etc.), children with anxiety may feel overwhelmed by continually living in a state of fear and uncertainty with no end in sight.
However, the good news is that adults can significantly reduce the pressure on children’s young and impressionable minds by encouraging the spirit of creativity and innovation. In fact, many informative and hilarious videos on the internet may prove that creativity holds the golden formula against anxiety - regardless of age or the type of anxiety faced.
Animal Video Compilations
Something is calming about animal videos. Animals make life seem so much easier with their carefree antics and adorable nature. A compilation of funny animal videos relaxes the stressed mind and reminds us that it's okay to have fun (and be silly) sometimes. From felines stuck in drink cartons to peek-a-boo puppies and mischievous dolphins, animals can turn a frown upside down. We can observe and learn how animals have fun in any situation and apply the mindset to stressful situations.
An Ancient Japanese Technique
There are many time-honored methods to relieve anxiety. One comes from a Japanese tradition where you can purge anxiety by gently pulling your thumb for a minute or two. For a general mood boost, press the center of your palm with the thumb of your other hand. You'll know it's working when you feel a slight pulse -creative and simple!
The Lifeline of Panic
Anxiety and panic disorders occur with varying intensities and physical symptoms. Hayes Art Therapy provides a soothing technique that empowers sufferers to visually chart their panic episodes through the art of drawing.
By "committing symptoms to paper" through shapes and colors, the individual can mentally unload anxiety and maintain better control over the situation. The artists can sit back and realize that anxiety episodes pass and end with a single drawing without entertaining lingering thoughts of doom and gloom.
Teleport to a Peaceful Place
The daily challenges in life can lead to a build-up of stress and anxiety. However, every person has a special place where they can feel 100% peace and calm. Through art therapy, individuals can channel the creative foundries inside their minds and teleport themselves to that particular place at any time and from anywhere. Drawing yourself in your safety zone offers a powerful reminder that the tools against anxiety are always within reach.
Release Anxiety into the Sky
Catharsis is the practice of releasing a person's pent up emotions and can help relieve panic symptoms. Artist Erica Pang shares a cathartic art activity where individuals freely guide their pens and markers according to current feelings as they fill an entire piece of paper with scribbles.
Upon doing so, the artist coats the chaotic scene with the calming colors of the sky along with cloud designs. The activity represents worries and troubles fading into the sky, leaving a pretty sight to behold.
Anxiety may result from a person losing control in the immediate present. Grounding is a convenient art activity that reconnects and strengthens an individual's thoughts and actions. Artists may use any drawing material and instrument to fulfill the task. It involves creating loops, circles, and lines without lifting the writing instrument.
Once complete, artists may fill in the spaces with colors using markers, pencils, or crayons. The art activity will distract individuals from anxiety symptoms and stimulate their creativity.
Surrender and Flow
Art enthusiast Desiree Clemons shares a technique known as surrender and flow. The method enables individuals to tame their "monkey mind,” the emotional centers responsible for panic and anxiety disorders.
Artists may draw anything that comes to mind while observing three golden rules: 1. never erasing or starting over, 2. don't stop for at least 15 minutes, and 3. stay mindful of thoughts without judgment. At the end of the exercise, Clemons provides viewers with an analytical approach to help them understand the inner emotional workings behind their artwork.
Nature provides brilliant art materials for quality art therapy. By combining the traditional practice of weaving with natural items like twigs, dried leaves, and flower petals, the artist can produce a beautiful reminder of life and the healing forces of art.
Shake Your Sillies Out
"Shake your Sillies Out" by children's performers, the Learning Station contains wacky lyrics that encourage young listeners to release their inner tensions through a variety of moves. Children will get ready to jump their jiggles and clap their crazies to a catchy and hilarious beat - and the adults can join in too.
Mindful Meditation for Kids
Guided imagery is a popular therapeutic tool for adults who face anxiety and other mood disorders. The New Horizon holistic center provides children versions of these powerful meditational guides, with fun terms like "saying hello to passing thoughts and letting them float away.” Guided meditation helps children improve their focus and attention on positive ideas and mental visuals that release the grip of anxiety.
As seen from a wide range of online resources, creativity and artistic expression contain the potential to alleviate anxiety. Unfortunately, some children may find art materials inaccessible due to their immediate environments.
The Crayon Initiative aims to change all of that through an ongoing crayon donation campaign that collects unwanted crayons, melts them, and re-manufactures quality products for art programs at Children’s hospitals. Let’s make a positive difference together to remove the effects of anxiety with the power of art.