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Marie Loney

Mental Health Awareness – Anxiety Unleashed: Exploring Creative Possibilities

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Anxiety is different from occasional feelings of nervousness as it often persists over time and interferes with daily functioning. It can be triggered by various factors, such as past experiences, genetics, or environmental stressors. When we are under immense pressure engaging creative techniques can help to manage our anxiety and improve overall well-being.

Creative practices can support anxiety by:

  • Providing a means of emotional expression
  • Promoting mindfulness and relaxation
  • Fostering self-reflection and insight
  • Offering a healthy distraction from worries
  • Building coping skills and resilience

Creative practices encourage self-reflection, offer a healthy distraction, and provide an opportunity to develop coping skills and boost self-confidence.

Creative Practices to Manage Anxiety

Emotional Expression: Art

We are going to look at emotional expression focusing on art as an outlet for our creative practice. Art provides a means for individuals to express and process their emotions. It allows them to channel their anxiety into a creative endeavour, providing a release and a way to externalise their inner experiences.

Using the following exercises you can explore your creative expression, focusing art as a powerful tool. You can effectively convey and navigate your emotions by engaging with these exercises to transform your anxiety into a constructive and creative practice, enabling you to release and reduce anxiety.

Art therapy is based on the theory that engaging in artistic activities can promote emotional healing and psychological well-being. It recognises that the creative process and the act of making art can be therapeutic and serve as a means of self-expression.

Collage

Art: Creative Practice 1

Two options of art practices follow, you can use small or large pieces of paper and spend as much time as you want. Have fun and release some anxiety.

Collage Creation: Cut out images from magazines or printouts that reflect your current emotions. Arrange them on a piece of paper or canvas to create a collage that visually represents your feelings.

For a digital version crop images and arrange on a word document or use Adobe to create your collage.

Emotion Painting: Use different colours and brush strokes to paint your emotions on a canvas. Allow yourself to freely express your emotions through the artwork without worrying about the final result.

If you don’t want to get messy use crayons or colouring pencils instead.

It would be great to know how you got on, please share your thoughts below in the comments.

MUSIC: CREATIVE PRACTICE 2

Creative expression is music, it is an excellent ally in the therapy of anxiety, providing consolation, tranquillity, and emotional relaxation. Playing an instrument or writing unique songs becomes a cathartic and empowering outlet for expressing and navigating the complexities of anxiety. Individuals unlock the doors to self-expression through writing or improvising, providing an outlet for emotional release, deep contemplation, and profound personal growth.

Choose the best option for you from the following exercises. I’m drawn to freestyle singing or humming, using my voice as an instrument will be fun.

Creating a Playlist: Create a playlist of songs that resonate with your emotionsInclude songs that evoke specific feelings or remind you of certain experiences. Listen to the playlist and let the music guide your emotional expression. I suggest you use music that will inspire you to keep yourself safe.

Freestyle Singing: Sing or hum melodies that come to mind spontaneously. Focus on expressing your emotions through the tone, rhythm, and intensity of your voice. Don’t worry about the lyrics; let your voice be the instrument of your emotions.

Songwriting: Write lyrics or compose music that reflects your emotions. To express your emotions, use analogies, pictures, or personal experiences. Experiment with different genres and musical styles to enhance your emotional expression.

It’s crucial to highlight that, while music or any creative practice can be a useful tool for coping with anxiety, it’s not a replacement for professional help. If you’re suffering from severe anxiety or mental health concerns, it’s recommended to seek guidance from a healthcare professional or therapist who can provide personalised support and guidance.

POETRY OR STORYTELLING: CREATIVE PRACTICE 4

We are looking a creative practice through writing or stories these are powerful form of artistic communication that allows you to explore and convey your thoughts, emotions and experiences in a unique and imaginative way it is a means of self-expression and storytelling that has been practised for centuries serving as a way to capture and convey the essence of the human experience.

Embark on a journey of self-discovery through the practice of exploring your creative expression. Choose an exercise that resonates with you and immerse yourself in the joy of translating your emotions into vibrant words. Select one exercise that resonates with you and enjoy the process of illustrating your emotions in words.

Writing prompts: For a poem or story, use writing prompts as a starting point for your creative expression. Prompts can be specific phrases, questions or images that spark your imagination. For example “Write a poem about a childhood memory” or “Create a short story inspired by a photograph.” Allow the prompt to guide your thoughts and let your creativity take over.

Rewrite a classic: Take a well-known poem or story and we write it from your perspective or with a different twist. This exercise allows you to engage with established works while injecting your own voice and creativity into the process. It encourages you to reimagine familiar narratives and explore alternative viewpoints.

Remember, the key to these exercises is to let go of self-judgement and allow your creativity to flow. Enjoy the process of exploration and self-expression and don’t be afraid to take risks and try new things. Writing poetry or stories is a deeply personal and subjective experience, so embrace your unique voice and let it shine through in your creative expression.

DRAWING: CREATIVE PRACTICE 5

One of the remarkable aspects of drawing is its personal and subjective nature when you pick up a pen, pencil or any other drawing tool, you have the opportunity to bring your unique perspective to life on paper or canvas. Your drawings become a window to your thoughts, emotions and experiences, providing others with a glimpse into your inner world whether you’re representing a specific subject, creating abstract art or expressing a narrative your drawings carry your own personal imprint.

Drawing is a powerful and popular form of creative expression that transcends the limitations of verbal language. It allows you to communicate your thoughts emotions and ideas visually, tapping into the innate human ability to understand and interpret visual representations. Drawing allows you to express and process your emotions, offering a sense of release and well-being.

Doodle mindfully: Set aside some time to simply doodle without any particular goal or outcome in mind. Allow your pen or pencil to move freely on the paper, creating organic shapes, patterns or lines. Focus on the process rather than the end result and let your mind relax as you engage in this meditative doodling exercise.

Expressive scribble: Take a blank sheet of paper and use a marker or crayon to make a scribble or random lines. Allow your hand to move freely and quickly without thinking too much about it. Afterwards, look at the scribble and identify any shapes or figures that emerge. Use your imagination to develop these shapes further, turning them into recognisable objects or characters. This exercise encourages creativity and help shift focus away from anxiety.

Remember, these exercises are meant to be exploratory and personal. There are no right or wrong ways to do them and the process is more important than the outcome. Allow yourself to enjoy the act of drawing and use it as a tool to support your well-being and managing anxiety.

Dancing: Creative Practice 6

As a creative expression, dancing provides a unique way of communicating and connecting with others. It transcends language barriers and enables individuals to express themselves physically and emotionally. through dance people can communicate joy, sadness, passion anger or any other emotion, often with a depth that words alone cannot capture.

Dancing is a powerful form of creative expression allows individuals to communicate and convey emotions, stories and ideas for movement. It is an art form that has been part of human culture for centuries and is practised in various styles and genres across the world.

Dancing allows you to explore your identity and personal narratives. It provides a means of self-expression and self-discovery. When dancing, you can tap into your imagination, embrace your individuality and showcase your unique movement style. It allows you to communicate your experiences beliefs and values through non-verbal language.

As a practice dancing can be a beneficial activity for managing in anxiety as it combines physical movement, rhythmic patterns and emotional expression. Engaging in dance exercises can help reduce stress, increase mindfulness and promote a sense of relaxation. Here are some of my favourite dancing exercises that you can try to support your anxiety management.

Freeform Dance: Find a quiet and comfortable space where you can move freely without judgement. Put on some calming music or instrumental tracks to allow yourself to move spontaneously. Focus on expressing your emotions and releasing tension through your body movement. Let go of any self-consciousness and embrace the freedom of movement.

Guided Imagery Dance: Choose a piece of music that suggests a particular mood or imagery. Close your eyes and listen to the music, allowing it to guide your movements. Imagine yourself in a peaceful and serene environment such as a beach or a forest. Let the music and your imagination take you on a journey, exploring different movements and gestures that reflect the imagery and emotions evoked by the music.

Remember, the goal of these dance exercises is not to achieve perfection or adhere to specific dance styles. It’s about connecting with your body, expressing yourself authentically and finding joy in movement. Always listen to your body, respect your limits and modify the exercises as needed to ensure your safety and comfort.

Crafting: Creative Practice 7

We are exploring crafting is a form of creative expression that allows you to channel your imagination, artistic skills and personal style into tangible creations. Whether it involves working with materials such as fabric, paper, wood, clat or various other mediums crafting offers a wide range of possibilities for self-expression and exploration.

As a form of self-expression crafting provides a means to express your thoughts emotions and personal experiences in a visual and tangible way. You can create pieces that reflect your unique personality beliefs and values making each creation a personal statement.

Crafting can be a therapeutic and calming activity. Focusing on the process of creating can help you to achieve a state of mindfulness, where you immerse yourself in the present moment and find relaxation. It can serve as a form of stress relief and provide a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

As a creative practice crafting is not limited to any particular medium or technique. It can encompass a wide array of activities such as sewing, knitting, painting, woodworking, paper crafting, jewellery making, pottery and much more. The beauty of crafting lies in the freedom to explore your interests, experiment and let your imagination guide you. Here are some crafting techniques that can help support you release anxiety.

Paper Crafts: Origami, paper cutting or paper folding can be soothing activities that require concentration and precision. You can create beautiful and intricate designs using just a sheet of paper. Visit YouTube for some simple examples.

Knitting or Crocheting: The rhythmic and repetitive motions involved in knitting or crocheting to have a meditative effect. Working on a simple pattern or creating something cosy like a scarf or blanket can help with relax your mind. Head to YouTube for examples

DIY Projects: Engage in do-it-yourself projects that interest you, such as creating vision board, refurbishing old furniture or making handmade candles or soaps. The process of transforming materials and seeing your project come to life can be gratifying and reduce anxiety.

Remember, the goal of these crafting exercises is to engage in the process rather than focusing solely on the outcome. Let yourself immerse in the activity, enjoy creative journey and let go of perfectionism. Allow the crafting process to be a form of self-care and a way to alleviate anxiety.

Credit for photography follows:  Jan Huber, Vojtech Bruzek, Jason Rosewell, Liz99, Dmitry Ratushny, Jules A, John Cameron, Sheldon Liu, Milo Weiler, Jason Leung and Paul Hanaoka.

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