May is Mental Health Awareness Month! In this post we share some important facts, resources and ways to use art and creativity to take your power back!
Read on below to find several ways to use art to deal with stress, find your peace and happiness.
Each year millions of Americans feel the effects of mental illness. Added to that a certain pressure exists in the creative world, where the idea of the “tortured artist” has been mythologized for decades. May is Mental Health Awareness month, a time to fight the stigma against mental illness and encourage support and intervention for better mental health through education, advocacy, and community-building.
FAST FACTS: Mental Illness Affects So Many Of Us
Here are some important numbers surrounding mental health shared by the National Alliance of Mental Illness as part of their “You Are Not Alone” awareness campaign.
1 in 6 U.S. youth experience a mental health condition each year, but only half get treatment.
50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24.
The overall suicide rate in the U.S. has increased by 35% since 1999.
Transgender adults are nearly 12x more likely to attempt suicide than the general population.
The average delay between onset of mental illness symptoms and treatment is 11 years.
55% of U.S. counties do not have a single practicing psychiatrist.
Given that so many of us or the people in our lives deal with mental health issues every day, we can start to feel helpless. But here are a few things you can do to fight back, spread awareness, and let other people who are suffering know that they are not alone
Actions You Can Take:
Share your story.
Dealing with mental illness can be isolating. If it feels safe and comfortable for you, post your story on social media, or share it with other online communities you are involved in. Your story matters — sharing your experience could make someone feel seen, heard and reflected out there in the world!
Be an advocate for better mental health legislation.
Click here to find out where your state ranks in terms of mental illness and rates of access to care. Reach out to your elected officials to let them know you think mental health should be a priority. Get in touch with your Senators or your Representatives.
Pablo Picasso once said, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” It’s no surprise, then, that many people around the world use art as a means to deal with stress, trauma and unhappiness – or to just find greater peace and meaning in their lives. If you’re curious about what art therapy has to offer, you can try out some of these great solo exercises at home to help nurse your mind, body and soul back to health. If you like the experience, you can also seek out professional art therapy treatment in your area.
Emotion Color Wheel from www.https://inspirationfeed.com/emotion-wheel/
Deal with emotions like anger and sadness through these helpful exercises.
Draw or paint your emotions. In this exercise, you’ll focus entirely on painting what you’re feeling.
Create an emotion wheel. Using color, this activity will have you thinking critically about your emotions. To learn more about how you can use a Color Wheel to work through emotions, visit this article here
Make a stress painting. Choose colors that represent your stress and jab, scribble and paint your problems away.
Put together a journal. Journals don’t have to just be based around words. You can make an art journal as well, that lets you visually express your emotions.
Art therapy can be a great way to relax. Consider these exercises if you’re looking to feel a little more laid back.
Only use colors that calm you. Create a drawing or a painting using only colors that you find calming.
Draw in sand. Like a Zen garden, this activity will have you drawing shapes and scenes in the sand, which can be immensely relaxing and a great way to clear your mind.
Make a zentangle. These fun little drawings are a great tool for letting go and helping reduce stress.
Color in a design. Sometimes, the simple act of coloring can be a great way to relax. Find a coloring book or use this mandala for coloring.
Draw outside. Working en plein air can be a fun way to relax and get in touch with nature while you’re working on art.
Art can not only help you deal with the bad stuff, but also help you appreciate and focus on the good. Check out these activities all about reflecting on your personal happiness.
Make a drawing related to a quote you like. Take the words of wisdom from someone else and turn them into something visually inspiring.
Document a spiritual experience. Have you ever had a spiritual experience in your life? Draw or paint what it felt like.
Document an experience where you did something you didn’t think you could do. We all have to do things that we’re scared or unsure of sometimes. Use this activity as a chance to commemorate one instance in your life.
Make a prayer flag. Send your prayers for yourself or those around you out into the universe with this project.
Often, a great way to get to know yourself and your relationships with others is through portraits.
Create a future self-portrait. This drawing or painting should reflect where you see yourself in the future.
Choose the people who matter most to you in life and create unique art for each. This is a great way to acknowledge what really matters to you and express your gratitude.
Draw yourself as a warrior. Start thinking about yourself as a strong, capable person by drawing yourself as a warrior in this activity.
Draw a mirror. This activity is based around a Piet Mondrian quote: “The purer the artist’s mirror is, the more true reality reflects in it.” You’ll need to figure out what is still cloudy in your own reflection of yourself, drawing a mirror and depicting those elements on paper.
Draw yourself as a superhero. If you could have a superpower what would it be? This project asks you to depict your own image as a superhero with these powers.
This book was recommened to me recently and is filled with creative ways to honor loved ones lost
Trauma and Unhappiness
These activities will ask you to face some unpleasant aspects of life, but with the goal of overcoming them.
Draw a place where you feel safe. The world can be a scary place but in this project you’ll create a place, draw, painted or sculpted, that makes you feel safe
Draw something that scares you. Everyone is frightened of something and in this project you’ll get a chance to bring that fear to light and hopefully work towards facing it.
Turn your illness into art. Facing a potentially terminal illness? Turn your illness into something beautiful by creating art about it.
Paint a loss in your life. If you’ve lost someone you love or something, paint it. This will help you to remember but also to recover.
Make art that is ephemeral. Sometimes we have a hard time letting go, but this project will teach you that it’s ok if something doesn’t last. Use materials like sand, chalk, paper or water to create art that you will destroy when it’s done.
For Collage ideas visit https://mymodernmet.com/diy-collage-craft-ideas
If you prefer to cut and paste rather than draw or paint, these projects are for you.
Create a motivational collage. You can hang this collage somewhere you’ll see it everyday. Filled with images you find motivating, it’ll help you keep pushing on.
Create a calming collage. Choose images that you find soothing, calming or even meditative and combine them to create an attractive collage that can help you to relax.
Collage a painting. To complete this exercise, you’ll first need to create a simple, abstract painting on paper. Then, tear this painting up and create another. Think about how you felt when you had to tear up the first painting and which you like more.
Examine aspects if who you are and how you see the world through these amazing art projects.
Create a timeline and draw the most significant moments in your life. This timeline will be the story of your life, with the most important moments highlighted visually.
Draw yourself as a tree. Your roots will be loaded with descriptions of things that give you strength and your good qualities, while your leaves can be the things that you’re trying to change.
Paint an important childhood memory. What was a pivotal memory in your childhood? This activity asks you to document it and try to understand why it was so important to you.
Design a visual autobiography. This creative journaling project asks you to look back at your life and make a visual representation of it
Build your own website. Websites are very versatile ways to express yourself. Build your own to express what’s most important about you.
Here you’ll find a collection of projects that will help you be happy about what you have and express your gratitude for it.
Document your gratitude visually. What things are you grateful for in your life? Paint or collage a work that represents these things.
Make something for someone else. Making something for someone else can be a great way to feel good and help someone else do so as well.
Draw all the positive things in your life. Everyone has at least one good thing in life, so sit down and figure out what makes you happy– then draw
Paint a rock. This project is meant to offer you strength. You can approach it in two ways. One option is to paint the rock with things that empower you. The other is to paint it with struggles you overcome.
Write on leaves to create a gratitude tree. What are you grateful for? This project asks you to write those things on leaves to construct a tree or banner of gratitude.
Build a personal altar. This is a highly personal project that will help connect you with your spiritual side and honor your resilience.
Inside the Mind
Take a look inside your mind to see what’s going on with these projects.
Create a blot art. Like a classic Rorschach test, fold paper in half with paint or ink in the middle and describe what you see.
Map your brain. Make a visual representation of your thoughts to figure out how your mind works.
Make a dreamcatcher. Having bad dreams? Create this age-old tool for catching your dreams with a few simple tools. Check out this tutorial to guide you in making your dreamcatcher, from kaleyann.com
Draw your dreams. You can learn a lot from what goes on in your dreams, so keep a dream journal and use it for inspiration to draw or paint.
If you’re still looking for something to empower, help or soothe you, these projects may fit the bill.
Use natural materials. Leaves, sticks, dirt, clay and other natural materials can help you get in touch with the natural world and the more primal side of yours.
Make art out of recycled items. You can reuse old items that have meaning to you or just re-purpose something you have laying around. Either way, you’ll get insights into how you can reshape and reevaluate your own life.
Collage or draw on top of old photographs. If you’re uncomfortable using old photos you can make copies, but with this project you’ll draw out one characteristic you see in the person in the photos.
Create your own interpretation of a famous work of art. How would you have painted the Mona Lisa? Using a famous work as your inspiration, create your own work. It could help reveal more about your lens on the world.
Work collaboratively. Art can be better when two work at it together, so find a partner and collaborate on just about anything.
Recommended Reads: Treat yourself, you deserve it!
Visit Biblio.com for 5% off book of your choice- search for any title to support this independent book store
Thank you for reading today- we wish you all the best on your mental health and creative journey. Please reach out to a friend or a loved one if you are not feeling OK- it is ok to ask for support and help, and also to offer the same to others. If you need a resource, check out www.nami.org/mentalhealthmon
Love, Peace & Blessings, Britta