Art and Anxiety
Part of living with anxiety includes finding outlets for expressing it and ways to shift focus to something besides the worry.
Being creative is not reserved just for “artsy” people and can have countless benefits, especially for anxious children. Using a creative approach to addressing anxiety can be a fun and non-intimidating way to alleviate some anxiety symptoms.
- Art can provide a relaxing experience where the mind can “shut off” worries for a bit.
- Art can provide an opportunity to focus on just one thing, whereas worrying generally takes the anxious mind in several directions.
- Art can provide a sensory output or cathartic release just by using hands-on materials.
- Art can be used to create visual strategies specific to someone’s worries or anxiety symptoms.
One of our favorite activities from our Anxiety ARTGuidesTM is the Stop and Save Booklet. Stopping the cycle of worry at bedtime prevents disruption of much needed sleep. Worry thoughts can be saved for the morning or other determined time by putting them in their Stop and Save booklet. Capturing worry thoughts in written form shows your child that you are not minimizing their worry but you are simply reserving it for a more appropriate time.
Get your step by step directions below:
Stop and Save Booklet
Objective: Stop nighttime worrying by creating a notepad for saving worry thoughts for another time.
Materials: Cardstock, paper, markers, hole punch, ribbon
1, Help your child understand the cyclical nature of worry thoughts, which can prevent a good night’s sleep. Explain to them that one worry thought can lead to another, which can lead to another, which eventually keeps cycling through the brain, making it difficult to fall asleep.
2. Have your child fold a piece of cardstock in half to form a booklet. Have them punch three holes, equally spaced along the fold. Similarly, have them fold the sheets of paper in half and punch three holes along the folds.
3. Have them then slide the paper into the cardstock “cover” to form a booklet.
4. Your child should thread the ribbon through the booklet from top to bottom and then turn the booklet over and thread the ribbon back through, bottom to top. They should tie the ribbon at the top. Alternatively, they can simply staple the booklet together. However, doing so does not allow them to add pages to the booklet.
5. Have your child decorate the cover of the booklet with markers.
6. Once complete, your child can store their Stop and Save Booklet by their bed. When they find themselves worrying at night, they can briefly jot down the worries in the booklet. Encourage your child to write down simple bullet points
about the worry, not paragraphs. The goal is to use the booklet as a way to address the worry in the morning, not to dwell on it as they are falling asleep.
Many times, your child will find the worry isn’t as big in the morning or that a solution is readily available.
We love thinking about life long learning strategies so this is one more to share with your child.
Have a great weekend!
Tracey and Holly
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