Taking Care of Your Mental Health using Art

Believe it or not, I’m trained as an Art Therapist (in addition to being a member of Walker Tracker’s Help Desk).  I’m quite a fan of holistic health care, which I view as promoting wellness in all avenues of yourself.

I believe that mental health is an important piece of wellness, and I’ve noticed that there’s been a recent trend of “Adult Coloring Books”, which are books/magazines with intricate images to color that have been shown to decrease anxiety.  I’ve tried a few of the books, and I found them very similar to coloring mandalas, which are circles that have intricate designs inside them to color (coloring mandalas as a method of decreasing anxiety was my area of focus for my Master’s thesis).  Coloring intricate shapes has been shown to trigger the same psychological response as meditation, and do not require you to have any experience in art.  After you’re finished you end up with a one of a kind awesome image too!

You can always search online for “coloring mandalas” and find some fun images to color.  Just a few minutes of coloring could have beneficial affects on your mood.

If you’re looking for a slight twist on the coloring concept, you can also try Zentangle.  In Zentangle you’re given a square and bunches of doodles to choose from that are very similar to high school notebook style doodles to recreate inside of the box.  You can make the doodles as large or as small as you want.  You can also make them really detailed or simple.  I’ve included an example of my own Zentangle for reference.

This is an example of a Zentangle that this author made

In general, taking a little time out of each day to take care of your mental health can go a long way to maintaining overall well being & a positive sense of self.  What else do you enjoy doing that contributes positively to your mental health throughout the day?  I look forward to hearing from you all!

Some resources discussing the mental health benefits of coloring:

http://www.medicaldaily.com/therapeutic-science-adult-coloring-books-how-childhood-pastime-helps-adults-356280

Image from: http://mentalfloss.com/article/70978/10-intricate-adult-coloring-books-help-you-de-stress

Curry, N. A., & Kasser, T. (2005). Can coloring mandalas reduce anxiety? Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, 22(2), 81-85. doi:10.1080/07421656.2005.10129441

Van der Vennet, R., & Serice, S. (2012). Can Coloring Mandalas Reduce Anxiety? A Replication Study. Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, 29(2), 87-92. doi:10.1080/07421656.2012.680047