Anxiety disorders are a common mental health problem in the US. Therapy is one way to treat anxiety. In what way art can help people with anxiety disorders?
Feeling anxious about something is normal, whether it’s your first day at work, taking a test, or giving a speech. Anxiety is a way your body response to stress. Some people, however, feel anxious most of the time, holding them back to do things they used to enjoy.
Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental illnesses in the US. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), 40 million adults in America experience anxiety disorders every year. The current pandemic also caused stress and anxiety to people.
Although anxiety disorders are highly treatable, data show only 36.9 percent receive treatment. If left untreated, anxiety disorders can get worse over time.
How Anxiety Disorders Are Treated?
Treatment for anxiety disorders varies based on the type of anxiety a person experiences. Each type of anxiety has a different set of signs and symptoms.
Three main types of anxiety
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) — People with GAD experience too much anxiety or worry most days about a range of things, including work, personal health, and everyday struggles. This usually lasts for at least six months.
- Panic Disorder — individuals who have this anxiety disorder experience frequent panic attacks. These are a sudden rush of intense fear that comes on quickly and lasts for a few minutes.
- Phobia-related disorders — this type of anxiety disorder is based on a specific phobia. Being confronted by their phobia will trigger someone’s anxiety.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) explains anxiety can be treated through medication, therapy, or both. There are several therapy programs designed to help individuals overcome their anxiety problems.
Art therapy, for example, is a unique way to help individuals with anxiety disorders by allowing them to express themselves creatively. Therapists usually combine this therapy with other traditional methods to provide patients with optimum results.
Art Therapy for Anxiety Disorders
Art therapy uses art to promote health and wellness. It is believed that self-expression can help someone resolve inner conflicts and problems, manage behavior, increase self-awareness, and lessen stress. This type of therapy has been around since the 1950s.
A trained specialist will guide you through counseling techniques and a variety of artistic expressions. It is ideal to use this technique with other traditional methods, such as marriage and family therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and group therapy.
People with GAD can use this therapy to express the intensity of their worries by creating any form of art, from painting to crafting. Art therapy does not require special skills. Let your feelings lead you in creating something.
There are many art therapy exercises you can try to help you with your anxiety. Doing handmade crafts with advocacy, for example, can improve your mental health. Grab your crafting tools and start small, like making a pillow or embroidery.
If you want to be more aware of your emotions, create a color wheel where each color represents a specific emotion. This is usually the first step in dealing with your emotions. To start with this exercise, draw a circle and divide it into eights. Label each section with an emotion, including sadness, frustration, joy, and rage, among others. Pick a color for each emotion and use any material you have.
Nature is an excellent source of inspiration for your artworks. Go for a walk, while wearing a face mask and keeping distanced with others, and collect objects that interest you along the way. Use these collected objects to create a sculpture or other art form while concentrating on your senses.
Exposing yourself to nature can also be beneficial for your mental health. A trip to the forest helps you reconnect with nature and it can be therapeutic. This therapy is known as “Forest Bathing” which popularized by the Japanese.
You can do art therapy at home, especially during the lockdown period. Art therapists offer online sessions where they can give you artistic activities every week. You wouldn’t need to have plenty of art supplies. Basic stationery and coloring supplies are enough. Your works don’t have to be perfect. Focus on expressing your feelings and create something worthy.
Anxiety disorders are a serious mental health problem. Severe anxiety can affect someone’s daily life. If you’re experiencing an anxiety disorder, art therapy could help you express your emotions and improve your well-being. Don’t hesitate to get treatment and seek support when needed.