Art for Relaxation: five creative activities to help calm a busy mind

Creativity can be a really powerful tool to help us through challenging times. Making ‘room for art’ and engaging in creative activities can have a positive impact on our overall health and wellbeing; helping us to focus, feel calm and take notice of the world around us.

In this blog post, our Room for Art artists have shared five creative activities to help relax, relieve stress and calm a busy mind.

Mindful Multiples

Repetitive actions can be a great way to relieve stress with rhythmic movements having a real calming effect. Artist Heather Lucchesi recommends “making multiples” as a way to relax through art.

To get started, draw around objects (such as cookie cutters) to create multiples of a shape. You could use paper scraps, magazines or cardboard for different colours and textures! Then, arrange the components or colour combinations to create patterns or interesting compositions.

Drawing to Music

When making visual art, all of our senses can participate in creating that piece of work. Allowing music or the sounds around you to influence the piece you are creating can work as a mindfulness exercise; encouraging you to focus on the environment around you and calm your mind.

In this video, artist Malcy Duff shows us how to draw to music and demonstrates the influence that your senses can have on the work you are creating.

ROOM FOR ART at home – Drawing to Music with Malcy Duff

Soft Sculptures

Exploring the manipulation of fabric and soft materials through soft sculpture is an experimental and playful method to destress while making art. For this activity, artist Sally Price suggests viewing your artwork as a giant stress ball; focusing on how the making feels and what the forms make you think of, rather than how it looks.

To start, stuff an old sock with your choice of stuffing. How much you stuff it will change the way it feels so whenever it feels good for you, tie a knot (or rubber band around the end) to secure it and make your squish form.

Then squash, twist, fold, compress, wind and push your squishy form into a random shape. Let your hands lead the way and let your mind wander! Secure your form with string or ribbon and tie a knot or tuck the end of your string in to secure it. You could even try playing with chaotic wrapping and neat wrapping techniques to finish off your sculpture.

Water Drawing

Looking at or listening to the soothing sounds of moving water has a naturally calming effect; triggering a response in our brains that increases blood flow and allows us to relax.

This next exercise is a really relaxing technique that involves a glass cooking dish, two thirds full of cold water. Artist Malcy Duff suggests placing the clear dish on top of a white sheet of paper before dropping colour onto the surface of the water. Dropping the colour from different distances will create different effects and you can then take the other end of a brush and move it around the water.

It can be really soothing making these puddles of colour, watching them float around and drop under the water’s surface. Water drawing can also be helpful in increasing your concentration and focus, as well as your control when applying your drawing tool.

Doodle and Colour

Doodling is another great way to relax, calm your mind and have a bit of creative fun. Artist Anjila Wilson shared a few tips in a previous blog post, Creative Warm-Ups: five ideas to get you started on your next art project.

Our Room for Art participants also designed a Doodle and Colour Book to send to Streetwork who help enable life off the street for people in Edinburgh facing extremely difficult circumstances. To find out more about the project and download your free copy, click here.

25 January 2023 by

Ursula Bevan Hunter