You’re never too young or old to try new things, especially when it’s creative and proven to be good for your brain. Below are art activities that I call therapeutic because they have meaning and are designed to illicit ideas and emotions for you to explore. These art activities are just a few examples of how you might illustrate what is happening in your heart and your mind.

These self directed and therapeutic activities may take between 20 to 45 minutes, depending on how invested you are in the process. You might enjoy doing this on a break, early in the morning or before you go to bed. Or try doing these with a friend or trusted loved one. 

Friendly reminder: Have fun and let go of the inner critic that says you can’t do this or you aren’t creative. Hold the intention that you will be surprised or enjoy experimenting with art regardless of what your art looks like in the end. This is about the process. This is for you. Be creative. Be curious.

Find 3 to 5 used magazines, newspapers, and/or brochures. Cut or tear up 10 to 15 images and/or words that represent something unique about you. Using any size of colored piece of paper, place the images on your paper and arrange them in a way that feels right to you. Once completed, title date your art work. On the back, spend 2 minutes writing about what the image and/or collage pieces you selected mean to you.

Watercolor (Or Paint):
Write a list of emotions you’ve had today. Circle the 5 most important in this moment. Next, select a color to represent each emotion. Then, for each emotion/color you chose, draw lines and shapes to represent each emotion. You may use small pieces of watercolor paper for each emotion, or use one piece of paper and paint all 5 emotions on the one page. If you have more than one sized paint brush, select the proper sized paint brush to reflect the emotion. When completed, be sure to glue your list of emotions on the back of the paper or write each emotion on the back of the papers. If you feel like you are not done at the end, choose a healing or positive emotion that can help you get through the day and repeat this exercise above. If time allows, journal for 2 minutes about what this activity was like and if anything surprising came up for you.

Hand trace:
Take a piece of paper and trace your hand with any color of pencil or marker you choose. Imagine this hand is a reflection of your life-–your past, present, and future. Using markers, pastels, pencils, or any other art material you choose, draw inside your hand to reflect all that comes to your mind. You may draw abstract lines, shapes, and colors, or you may have specific images that you wish to draw. Either way is fine. Outside of your hand is blank space. In the space around your hand, decide what people, events, and places that have given you love and support along the way you want to draw. Again, feel free to draw in abstract or realistic form. Or, maybe in the space around your hand, you wish to write words that reflect your community and support system. When done, date and title your image. If you have additional time, write on the back some reflections about this art piece and its significance to you.

Found objects:
Take a walk in your neighborhood or backyard and find 6 to 8 small nature objects that you are drawn to because they are either comforting or interesting. They don’t have to be related in any way. On a large piece of paper, place these objects in a circle. Using a marker, write down a name of a person next to each item that you brought home. You may not know why you wrote a name down next to a particular object and that is okay. What is each piece’s unique characteristics and why do you like each piece the way that you do? Write down some notes next to each object if you wish. How does what you describe for each piece translate to how and why you gravitate to the people you enjoy being with? Take a photo of your objects in a circle and return the items back to nature or keep this art piece for further reflection.

For more therapeutic art activities, please check out these links:

Collaging activities:
Psychology Today: Art Journaling

Self soothing and doodling activities:
At Home Art Therapy Exercises

Lots and lots of themed therapeutic art activities:
Expressive Art Therapy Activities