Using Art for Self Care

art for self care

I have added a new rhythm to my daily life and it has had wonderful benefits to my mental health and wellness. I spend at least fifteen minutes each day creating something. Typically I am working in my art journal, doodling, painting, or doing mixed media. When I have the time to work longer I spend closer to an hour, but on busy days I try to do at lease fifteen minutes.

Engaging in creating art, whether its a complex image or simply intuitive painting or drawing, provides me a mental break from the chaos of my life. I am a stay -at-home mom with two boys under 6. Typically I have constant noise and activity around me. Often one of the two boys, or both at the same time, are pulling on me for help with something. I am a caregiver for my sons and my household and often feel spent by early afternoon. For me, taking 15-30 minutes to be quiet and focus completely on my art journal gives me the mental break that I need. Getting quiet, or listening to quiet, instrumental music, giving myself the time to be a caregiver for “me”, and losing myself in the creative process is often enough to provide me the energy and mental clarity to get through the rest of the day. My body is calmer, my mind clearer. I have less anxiety and am less likely to lose my patience with my kids.

On the weekend when I have more time to myself to create art, I will grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, put on some music, and sit for a few hours painting and collaging and playing with various mediums. Sometimes I end up with a beautiful canvas or art journal page. Often its just a representation of my creative musings and would not be worthy of being hung on the wall. This is more often the case.

I have several art journals that I work in. Some I have made, some I have purchased. I have many types of mediums to work with and am trying new techniques all the time. I love watching other artist create on Youtube and will often get my creative juices flowing, learn a new technique, or just get inspired to go sit down and create.

The beauty of an art journal, as opposed to working on a canvas, is that it is just for me. It is a place I can safely sit and write or draw my feelings and thoughts, knowing that no one will see it (unless I choose to share it). It is personal and protected. It has no expectations or rules. I can be abstract or work intuitively, or I can be more structural and create a specific image.

I have found mixed media to be very enjoyable and effective for a few reasons. One, the process of creating many layers feels so good. I love the act of ripping and tearing papers and gluing them down. Then building each layer of paint, gesso, pastels, more papers, found ephemera…there is something so enjoyable about the process. I have always been a collector of ephemera, never able to throw anything away, like the cute tag on the antique jar I purchased, the train ticket from our mountain adventure, or the ribbon on the gift I received. While most people may toss these, I have a need to keep them. I love how they look and what they remind me of. Having a place to use these is a way to keep them but not hoard them. This has been a great outlet for me to use the things I have in a creative way.

Most recently I have gotten my six year old son into creating with me. I helped him to make his own art journal, taught him the process of creating layers for mixed media, gave him his own travel art journal bag of pencils, crayons, scissors, and glue. Sitting down to create together is some of my favorite times spent with him. Seeing his love of art and his enjoyment along side of me brings me joy.

I have included a few examples of some of my art just as an example and encouragement for you to try your hand at it. Perhaps you would love to add this healthy rhythm of creating to your daily life!

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