After the recent suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, depression has become a hot topic. I’d like to offer some tips on how to use art as a way to combat depression and lift your spirits. Please know that I am not in any way claiming that art is a substitute for medical treatment! Anyone who is suffering from serious depression should seek medical help immediately.
Try some of these suggestions for several weeks. You may be surprised how much impact making art has on your sense of well being! The following is partially excerpted, condensed and added to from an article titled, Relieve Stress and Anxiety By Creating Art on ThoughtCo.com.
6 Things You Can Do Right Now to Lift Your Spirits With Art
1) Experiment with color. Without thinking about it, choose colors that appeal to you and start painting them. Or tear them out of magazines and glue them down. Don’t think too much about their shapes or making anything recognizable – just enjoy the colors. The act of concentrating on the colors alone and determining color combinations will give you something to focus on other than the stresses of your daily life.
2)Keep a visual gratitude journal. It can consist of photographs, drawings, paintings, collage, or images you cut out from magazines or newspapers – anything for which you are grateful and to which you can return, reminding yourself of the joys of living.
3) Do a small drawing or painting a day. Spend an hour or so doing a small painting. There are so many good reasons to do this: you improve quickly, you can try new things without fear of ruining something you’ve spent a long time on; you feel a sense of accomplishment every day; it relieves stress. Start drawing shapes. Draw freehand circles of all sizes, overlapping and concentric. Then color them in. Use a pen or black marker and draw a freehand doodle and then color it in. This could even be something you do on a paper napkin or a Post It Note. This takes the fear out of staring at a big white blank page!
4) Make a spirit or soul collage. On a standard size of cardboard or matte board (4″x 6″ or 5″x 7″), make collages from magazine images and words that speak to you. Don’t plan in advance what you want to do, but let the image come forth organically. These collages can reveal much about your subconscious feelings and desires. You don’t have to follow the Soul Collage official instructions, just the essence of the idea.
5)Practice Seeing/Drawing. This is a kind of meditative drawing called blind contour drawing in which you draw very slowly while looking at what you are drawing rather than at the surface you are drawing on. It slows down time and makes you truly see the uniqueness of the thing you are drawing. A continuous contour drawing is much the same but you aren’t allowed to pick your pen/pencil up off the paper – it is just one continuous line. You can use a pencil, a ballpoint pen, a marker, whatever you have. If you did one of these every day, you would increase your ability to notice things and you will see improvement. I like this video but recommend using it with the sound off.
6)Try Coloring or Drawing Zentangles. Take a cue from the children in your life and get an adult coloring book. You don’t have to face a blank page, all you have to do is start coloring and feel the stress melt away.