20 Therapeutic Art Activities for Stress Relief

therapeutic art activities
Therapeutic art activities is more than just making pretty pictures; it’s a powerful way to express emotions, reduce anxiety, and find inner peace.

Life can be overwhelming at times, and stress often finds a way to creep in. While there are various methods for managing stress, one particularly effective and creative approach is art therapy.

Creative expression is a potent means of relieving stress and nurturing mental well-being. It allows individuals to externalize their thoughts and emotions, providing a healthy outlet for self-expression.

The main goal of this blog post is to give people easy-to-use art therapy ideas that can help them deal with stress and improve their mental health. We want to give people creative tools and techniques they can use in their everyday lives to deal with and get rid of stress.

How is Art Therapeutic?

Before we dive into all the different type of therapeutic art activities, let’s take a moment to understand what art therapy is and how it can help with stress. Art therapy is a form of expressive therapy that allows individuals to use art and creative processes to explore and understand their emotions.

Creative expression, whether through art, music, writing, or other forms, allows individuals to release pent-up emotions and feelings. This process can be cathartic, providing an outlet for stress and tension.

Engaging in creative activities often requires focused attention on the present moment. This mindfulness can help individuals temporarily shift their focus away from stressors, promoting relaxation and a sense of calm.

Setting Up Your Art Therapy Space

Start by picking a quiet, private space that, if possible, has natural light and good airflow. This will set the stage for a calm atmosphere.

Use calming colors, like blues and greens, or neutrals that don’t stand out too much to decorate the room. You could also add things from nature or personal touches for more inspiration.

Make sure art supplies are easy to get so that kids can be spontaneous and creative. Play soft, calming music to make the atmosphere more therapeutic, and make sure clients and you have comfortable places to sit and work.

By paying attention to these details, you can make an environment where art therapy can work its magic and help people grow.

It’s important to make an art therapy space comfortable and inspiring, whether it’s at home or in a studio, so that people can talk about their feelings and feel better.

Therapeutic Art Activities for Stress Relief

1. Mindful Coloring

As a mindful activity, coloring is a quiet place to escape from the busyness of life. It helps people find inner peace and balance in a world that moves quickly.

Coloring helps you relax and feel less stressed by getting you to pay attention to the present moment. It helps people be more mindful because they can focus on the small details and colors and temporarily forget their worries.

Coloring is a creative activity that helps people get in touch with their feelings and thoughts in a way that doesn’t involve words. This type of art therapy can be done by anyone, no matter how good they are at art.

It is a fun way to encourage creativity, boost self-esteem, and find peace through the meditative act of coloring.

2. Doodling

People often think of doodling as a spontaneous and seemingly pointless activity, but it can also be a very calming art form. It involves making shapes, patterns, and designs without having a plan in mind.

This lets the mind wander and explore its inner landscape. This form of artistic expression helps people become more mindful by making them focus on drawing without getting in the way.

Doodling gives people a way to get rid of mental clutter and helps them process their thoughts and feelings in a visual way. As the brush moves across the paper, it can make you feel less stressed and more relaxed.

Doodling is a way to get into the present moment, where worries and other distractions temporarily disappear. This makes it an easy and helpful activity for anyone who wants to calm down and think.

3. Expressive Art

Expressive art therapy is a powerful way to help people heal emotionally and learn more about themselves. People can bring their inner worlds out into the open through art like painting, drawing, sculpting, and movement.

This lets buried emotions, traumas, and subconscious thoughts come to the surface. This process gives a safe and nonverbal way to explore and work through complicated feelings that are hard to talk about.

Making art can be therapeutic because it can help you let go of your feelings and give you a sense of power and control. Therapists use expressive art to help clients understand their feelings, boost their self-esteem, and learn better ways to deal with stress.

It helps people become more self-aware and connect with their true selves. This leads to emotional healing and personal growth.

4. Vision Boards

By collecting and arranging pictures, words, and symbols, people can give their thoughts, feelings, and goals a form that can be seen and touched.

This kind of collage-making often taps into the subconscious mind, revealing connections and ideas that might be hard to explain with words alone. Vision boards are a non-linear and intuitive way to explore feelings, past experiences, and wants.

It can help people see patterns, find hidden reasons for doing things, and set goals for personal growth and change. In this way, making collages is a powerful tool for self-reflection, self-discovery, and navigating one’s emotional landscape, as well as a guide for achieving future goals and aspirations.

5. Art Journaling

People can talk about their deepest thoughts, feelings, and experiences in their journals by using art, writing, and other forms of mixed media. It’s a safe place where no one will judge you if you want to let out feelings, celebrate joys, or face problems.

Art journaling is a unique way to talk to yourself and can help you find insights, patterns, and desires you didn’t know you had. It tells people to be proud of their creative voices and use art as a way to talk about their inner stories.

In the end, art journaling is a powerful tool for self-discovery, healing, and personal growth. It is a colorful and cathartic way to express yourself and think about yourself.

6. Mandala Coloring

Mandalas have complicated, circular patterns that encourage people to be in the present moment and pay attention to coloring inside the lines. This kind of activity helps to calm the mind and slow down thoughts and worries.

As the colors flow onto the page, a sense of peace and calm comes over you. This helps you feel less stressed and relax deeply. Coloring mandalas is a creative way to meditate, which helps you feel less stressed and more in balance and harmony.

It’s a simple but deep practice that gives people a break from the stresses of everyday life and lets them find peace and renewal through art and mindfulness.

7. Nature Art

People can get away from the stresses of modern life by doing things in nature, like collecting leaves, rocks, or branches, or just by being outside. As they use these natural materials to make art, they feel a deep connection to the environment and their stress starts to melt away.

Collecting and arranging things from nature helps people be more mindful and present, bringing them back to the here and now. The beauty and simplicity of nature make us feel amazed and calm, giving us a break from the busyness of everyday life.

In the process of making nature art, stress is replaced by peace, and the healing qualities of nature are brought into the heart of one’s creative expression.

8. Sculpture

When people work with their hands to shape and mold materials like clay or stone, they feel a deep sense of focus and presence. As the hands work to create form and structure, sculpting makes it possible to let go of tension and feelings that have been building up.

This change from a raw material to a piece of sculpture is like the inner journey of transforming stress and turmoil into a state of balance and harmony. Sculpture lets people express themselves in a way that isn’t literal or verbal. It’s a safe and cathartic way to let out feelings.

The act of sculpting itself becomes a form of mindfulness. Stresses fade away and are replaced by a sense of accomplishment and inner peace.

9. Digital Art

Digital art  gives people a place to express their creativity without the need for physical materials. This makes it easy to access and convenient.

Digital art software lets people explore their creativity through drawing, painting, and graphic design, giving them a lot of ways to express themselves. Digital art, in which gestures and strokes are made on a screen, can be very satisfying and relaxing because it can be touched.

Also, being able to undo and try things out without worrying about making mistakes makes people feel more relaxed and free to be creative. Digital art also lets people get lost in a virtual world, giving them a break from the stresses of everyday life.

Whether you use coloring apps, digital painting, or graphic design, making digital art is a great way to relieve stress and express yourself.

10. Photography

Photography is a great way to  connect with the world in a unique and meaningful way. People can focus their attention on capturing moments of beauty, peace, and wonder in their environment through the lens of a camera or smartphone.

By framing and arranging a photo, they become more aware of the details and subtleties of the world around them. Photography is a form of visual meditation that can help you forget about your worries and other things for a while.

It gives people a sense of purpose and engagement as they look for and record scenes that move them. Photography can calm, inspire, and appreciate the world’s natural beauty, whether you’re photographing a landscape, a spontaneous moment, or light and shadow.

11. Found Object Art

Found object art, which is also called assemblage or mixed-media art, is a type of art is made by putting together creative, and often symbolic, arrangements of everyday objects.

Finding materials and putting them together to make a whole piece keeps the mind busy in a focused and meditative way, giving you a break from stress and worries. When people turn ordinary things into art, it gives them a sense of accomplishment and control, which is good for their self-esteem.

The creative process helps people be resourceful and figure out how to solve problems. It’s also a good way to escape daily life’s stresses. Also, found object art allows people to express themselves in non-traditional and thought-provoking ways, letting them let go of feelings and explore their own stories.

It’s a freeing, all-encompassing art form that can help you relax and feel a deep sense of fulfillment.

12. Clay Therapy

Clay therapy, which is also called “art therapy with clay,” is a very therapeutic activity that can help a lot with stress. As people shape, mold, and move the clay, they use their creativity and let go of feelings and tension that have been building up.

Clay therapy is a unique way to express yourself because it is a physical activity. The very act of kneading and shaping the clay can be a cathartic release.

Immersing oneself in the feelings and textures of the clay helps people be more mindful and in the moment. The freedom to make something out of a lump of clay is similar to the process of turning stress and chaos into a sense of balance and accomplishment.

Clay therapy is not only an artistic activity, but also a calming and meditative one. The therapeutic benefits of clay therapy go far beyond the finished piece of art, helping to relieve stress and heal emotions.

13. Creative Writing

Creative writing gives you a safe way to let out feelings and thoughts that can get too much. By writing poetry, stories, journal entries, or even “stream of consciousness” prose, people can bring their inner worlds out into the open and let go of tension and anxiety.

Creative writing encourages people to think about themselves and their experiences, which helps them understand themselves better. When writers put words together to make stories or poems, they become more aware of the subtleties of language and expression.

It gives a person a sense of being in charge of their thoughts and feelings and gives them a way to clear their minds. Creative writing is a way to turn stress into something creative, which gives you a sense of accomplishment and emotional relief.

14. Printmaking

Printmaking, which is done by hand and often involves doing the same thing over and over. By making multiple prints from the same design, you can try out different things and get away from the need to be perfect.

Because they don’t have to make a single masterpiece, they can be more relaxed and open to new ideas. Whether you’re making linocuts, woodcuts, or etchings, the physicality of the process can be a welcome break from the stresses and worries of everyday life.

Printmaking lets people use all of their senses, from the way the materials feel to the way the ink smells. As they pull prints and see their designs take shape, they feel a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.

This helps them feel less stressed and better about themselves in the long run.

15. Mosaic Art

The tactile and creative process of making mosaics is a unique and therapeutic way to deal with stress. It can be very relaxing to carefully choose, arrange, and glue together small pieces of tile, glass, or other materials to make a bigger design.

Because you have to pay close attention to each piece to put it in place, you become more mindful and present, temporarily putting stress and worries out of your mind.

As the mosaic comes together, it gives you a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, which is a nice boost to your self-esteem and confidence. Mosaic art also helps people learn to solve problems and pay attention to details.

 It’s a good way to take your mind off the stresses of everyday life. Also, the bright colors and different textures of mosaic pieces can be relaxing to look at. This makes the creative process itself a form of therapy that leads to a beautiful and lasting piece of art.

16. Calligraphy

Calligraphy is the art of making beautiful handwriting. It can be a relaxing and meditative way to deal with stress. When people carefully and rhythmically form letters and words, they enter a state of mindfulness.

Focusing on how the ink flows on paper or another surface becomes a form of meditation that takes your mind off the stresses of everyday life for a while.

Calligraphy requires people to be patient and pay attention, which helps them feel calm and in control. The act of making something is an artistic journey in and of itself, and each stroke of the pen is a way to show yourself.

Making text art that looks good can give you a real sense of accomplishment and pride.

17. String Art

String art is repetitive and rhythmic, which helps people focus on the present moment and let go of worries for a while. As the strings are carefully woven together, a sense of control and order is created, giving the weaver a sense of accomplishment and confidence.

The physical aspects of the craft, like hammering the nails and touching the threads, engage the senses and offer a sensory way to relax. String art encourages people to be creative and try new things.

It also gives people a healthy and constructive way to get rid of their feelings. Overall, it becomes a relaxing and artistic activity that lets you express yourself creatively and helps you relax.

18. Watercolor Resist

Watercolor resist is a method in which wax or white crayons are used to make barriers that stop watercolor paint from going through. This slow, physical action helps people be more aware and focused, taking their minds off of stressful things.

As the watercolor paint is put on top of the resist, a fascinating play of colors that repel each other and blend together happens. As the paint flows and mixes on the paper, its unpredictability and fluidity make it easy to let go and enjoy the moment.

Watercolor resist lets artists try new things and be creative, and when the final piece is done, a sense of accomplishment and relaxation takes over, making it an excellent way to relieve stress and have fun.

19. Community Art Projects

Community art projects are a unique and heartwarming way to relieve stress by working on a creative project with other people. Most of the time, these projects involve working with other people in the community on public art installations, murals, or other projects meant to make shared spaces look better.

Working in a group makes people feel like they belong and are connected, which makes them feel less alone and less stressed. Making art together helps people talk to each other and work together, which can be very satisfying and fulfilling.

The good things that happen in the community can also give people a sense of accomplishment and pride, which is good for their emotional health. Community therapeutic art activities remind us that making art is not just a personal journey, but also a powerful way to build relationships and make the world a better place.

20. Art and Music Integration

Art and music integration combines the therapeutic benefits of making art and listening to music. By doing this, people can combine the calming effects of seeing and hearing.

When people make art while listening to music, they can sync their work with the beats and feelings of the music. This combination gives you a whole sensory experience that helps you be present and mindful.

Integrating art and music can increase the emotional impact of both, making people feel calm, inspired, or even relieved. The combination of artistic and musical expression is a powerful way to let go of feelings and learn more about yourself.

It creates a peaceful space where stress can be turned into a deeper connection with feelings and a deep sense of well-being.

Mindfulness in Art Therapy

Mindfulness, which is all about being in the moment without judging it, fits perfectly with the therapeutic parts of making art. Mindfully making art encourages people to be fully immersed in the creative process and pay attention to feelings, thoughts, and sensations as they come up.

It becomes a way to meditate and think about yourself, which helps you become more self-aware and accept yourself. Making art in a mindful way can help people deal with trauma, handle stress, and develop healthy ways to deal with problems.

Also, it helps people feel calm inside, which lets them connect with their inner selves, gain insights, and build resilience. When mindfulness and art therapy are used together, they create a dynamic and whole approach to healing and self-discovery.

This gives people a powerful way to change and feel better about themselves.

Therapeutic Art Resources


  1. “The Creative Art of Living, Dying, and Renewal: Your Journey through Stories, Qigong Meditation, Journaling, and Art” by Elise Dirlam Ching and Kaleo Ching
    • This book explores the therapeutic power of creativity and art in navigating life’s challenges and finding renewal.
  2. “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron
    • While not specifically an art therapy book, it offers valuable exercises and insights to unlock your creative potential and reduce stress through artistic expression.
  3. “The Art Therapy Sourcebook” by Cathy Malchiodi
    • A comprehensive guide to art therapy, including exercises and techniques for personal growth and stress reduction.


  1. American Art Therapy Association (AATA)www.arttherapy.org
    • AATA’s website provides resources, articles, and information about art therapy, including how it can be used for stress relief and emotional well-being.
  2. The International Expressive Arts Therapy Association (IEATA)www.ieata.org
    • IEATA offers resources and information on expressive arts therapy, a related field that combines various arts modalities for healing and personal growth.
  3. Psychology Today – Art Therapy Sectionwww.psychologytoday.com/us/therapy-types/art-therapy
    • This section of Psychology Today’s website features articles and information on art therapy, its benefits, and finding art therapists near you.


  1. Colorfy: Coloring Book for Adults (iOS/Android)
    • Colorfy offers a wide range of coloring templates designed for stress relief and relaxation.
  2. Art Therapy Coloring (iOS)
    • This app provides a variety of coloring pages and tools for digital art therapy.
  3. Relax Coloring: Adult Coloring Book for Stress Relief (Android)
    • A relaxing coloring app with a wide selection of templates for stress relief.
  4. Calm – Meditation and Sleep (iOS/Android)
    • While not specifically an art therapy app, Calm offers guided meditations and mindfulness exercises that can complement your art therapy practice for stress reduction.


Therapeutic art activities are a great way to learn about yourself, heal your emotions, and relieve stress.

Getting creative can be a powerful way to express yourself and change, whether you’re picking up a paintbrush, doing mindful coloring, or starting an art journal.

It doesn’t matter how old you are, how good an artist you are, or how much life experience you have. It is a universal language that lets us explore our inner worlds.

By adding therapeutic art activities to our lives, whether through online communities, workshops, or personal practice, we open the door to deep self-reflection, resilience, and well-being.

So, let your artistic journey be a place for you to express your feelings and a step toward a healthier, more balanced, and more creative life.

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