March 30, 2020

Art Activities to Relieve Stress

By Jackie Humphrey

We’re all trying to navigate this quarantine. There’s a lot of unknowns right now, and that can be stressful. Study after study has shown that making and creating can be a great stress reliever. It’s a way to positively occupy your mind and express yourself without the difficulties of narrowing down your thoughts and feelings into words.

Let’s flash back to Montessori and kindergarten and relive the motto, “It’s about the process, not the product.” Enjoy the process of creating and making, and don’t worry about what the end product looks like. Set aside your judgment and let your creativity flow. The good news is you don’t need a lot of traditional art supplies; you can create with just a pen and paper or digitally with a variety of apps.

Here are some art activities by Rachel Hirning MA, LPC, and others to try out when you need a little reprieve from the day’s stress.

blue and green art with ripples from top to bottom

Draw Your Stress

If your stress had a color, what would it be? Imagine it had a shape. What does it look like? This is a great starting point for your art.

Create Two Circles

Draw one large circle and a smaller one inside. In the larger circle, draw what you couldn’t control that day using shapes, lines, and other representations. In the smaller circle, draw what you could control. Concentrate on that small circle!

Make Ugly Art

Yes, making something ugly can be very freeing. Just don’t worry about what it looks like. Give yourself permission to make something imperfect, ugly, and “bad” even. How does it make you feel? How do you feel while making it?

red, yellow, blue, and white paint streaks

How is the Weather?

If your stress were weather, what kind of weather would it be? Cloudy, a little foggy, stormy? Start your art by drawing the elements.

Make a Collage

Get out your scissors, glue, magazines, flyers from the mail, or even pictures from the web and make a collage of things that bring you joy or inspire you. Be creative and let your imagination run wild.

abstract pencil drawing of waves with clawsDraw to Music

Pick music that matches your mood or calls to you in some way. Soft rhythms might inspire you to draw waves while sharp, staccato music might invoke bold lines and jagged edges. Put your art instrument to paper and let it flow.


Playdoh isn’t just for kids. It’s great for working out some feelings. It can even be a little therapeutic to flatten or squash whatever you’ve created! You can even make some at home. Find the instructions for DIY Playdough here.

step-by-step illustration of making zentangles Zentangles

Zentangles are a form of “doodle art.” They are made up of repeating or structured patterns and textures that help with your focus and creativity. And, it’s really fun and easy! There are tons of coloring books filled with zentangles but why not create your own? Check out this link to learn more: Getting Started with Zentangles.

Finger Paint

You’re never too old to finger paint! It’s probably been far too long since you’ve gotten your hands dirty and gotten back to basics with paint. If any of the above ideas intimidate you, this classic form of play is the perfect place to start. Don’t have any paint at home? Learn how to make your own with these instructions.

Digital Art

If you’re more of a digital person, try coloring apps like Color Therapy, drawing apps like Drawing Desk, doodling apps like Joy Doodle, or even collage apps like Collage Maker.

When Ignite Studio is able to open again, we would love for everyone to come create with us. Until then, let’s listen to Emily Pilloton, an educator, designer, and maker who says, “The best way to start is simply to start.” So, take a deep breath, get out your supplies, and make something!