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When I was in an inpatient center, an art therapist had us do an activity with a volcano. We wrote down what made us go “over the top” with anger, anxiety, or any feelings. Then we drew it. Doing this helped me let out feelings of depression and anxiety. We also did things with clay. I made a heart and carried it as a symbol of strength.

I’ve also recognized the positive effect music has on me. After a stressful day at school, I go straight to my piano or guitar. As soon as I touch the keys or strum the guitar strings, I feel relief. It’s like music speaks what I can’t.

Basically, art and music help me cope with overwhelming feelings. You don’t have to be a musical prodigy or an artist to use art and music as a coping skill. Listening to music or looking at art can be just as helpful as creating it. Music and art can help express thoughts and emotions you don’t know how to describe with words. Let your creativity shine!

According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy helps people “resolve conflicts, improve interpersonal skills, manage problematic behaviors, reduce negative stress, and achieve personal insight.”

Here are a few ways I express my emotions and comfort myself through art and music. Give a few of these a try. They may work for you too.

When I Need A Physical/Emotional Release

I might feel the need for a physical release if I’m angry, frustrated with myself, or restless. This is sometimes accompanied by the urge to self-harm.

My healthy expression: If you want physical sensation, draw on yourself with paint or Sharpie. Write something inspirational on yourself. The Butterfly Project is a great example of doing this.

When I Need Self-Comfort

Someone may feel the need for self-comfort if they are going through loss, extreme stress, low confidence, anxiety, or feelings of depression.

My healthy expression: Writing and singing are my favorite ways to comfort myself. Either I’ll write poems that describe how I feel or play an instrument

When I Need Relaxation

Panic attacks are a huge problem for me, especially when I’m at school or in large crowds.

My healthy expression: Slow, deep breathing combined with writing or listening to music, can help alleviate anxiety. Another solution is to listen to calming music, such as nature sounds (I like rain) or instrumentals. 

When I Need a Distraction

If I’m under a lot of stress I need to find a way to prevent myself from engaging in harmful behaviors.

My healthy expression: I’ll listen to piano covers online or watch funny videos.

Want more? Here are some apps and websites that have interactive music and art therapy:

Weave Silk: Interactive generative art

Nature Sounds For Me: This is an app that layers different nature sounds for a relaxing effect.

Visual Poetry: Write or copy and paste a story or poem. You can draw with words!

And remember If you are struggling right now, are having thoughts of suicide, or need emotional support, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available online or by calling 1-800-273-8255.

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