Just relax… take some deep breaths, chill out… These are often our advice to those around us who are stressed and overwhelmed – and what others say to us. There are more options to explore, including many creative activities for relaxation.
Some of us are driven to keep busy and productive all the time and don’t realize the importance of taking real breaks, of unwinding, really relaxing. Physically, it lowers the heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate. It also reduces muscle tension and chronic pain. Mentally, it reduces stress and other symptoms of mental health issues, including depression and anxiety. And our concentration and mood are improved!
We can access the benefits of relaxation in a variety of ways. Many of us have one or more fallback activities – vegging out in front of the TV, walking or exercising, working in the garden, coloring or drawing. Some rely on meditation or yoga. Adding options to your repertoire can be enjoyable and helpful.
As we look at 10 types of creative activities for relaxation, you will see some that you already use. Think about ways to adapt or expand them. Consider suggesting them to others.
Artwork (drawing, painting, sculpting, etc.) Don’t worry about your skill level. Try something you’ve not done before, dust off skills you haven’t used in a while, and pour yourself into it. Use it to express your thoughts and feelings, or just to escape from all of that.
Crafts (pottery, knitting, embroidery, decoupage, etc.) Decide to try something new or come back to a craft you enjoyed in the past. The creative process is both relaxing and affirming.
Coloring – If artwork and crafts seem like too much preparation and too complicated, just get some great coloring pencils, pens or markers and one of the wide variety of adult coloring books available. Use your creativity with color combinations and see a completed project before you know it. Check out these coloring books and the coloring implements offered there too.
Gifts for others (homemade cards, bookmarks, etc.) Focus on someone special you’d like to share a personalized handmade item with for an upcoming event or ‘just because.’ You can create a card with your own artwork or photography along with your own words that will be a treasure for the recipient. Bookmarks are a way to creatively express something and they can be used for a long time.
Music (learn to play an instrument, dance, etc.) Music is so powerful in reducing stress and also boosting the immune system. Perhaps you already have a playlist or favorite music in other forms to help you relax. I have CDs and my favorite classical music station on which I rely. Take that one step farther and choose an instrument that speaks to your soul and learn to play it. The point is not to become a musician but to learn something new and find enjoyment in it. And then there’s dancing! The movement distracts you from the thoughts that are holding you captive and releases chemicals that reduce stress and increase your calmness and optimism. Find a free dance class on YouTube or just turn on your favorite upbeat music.
Gardening – For many people, gardening is the ultimate stress-reducer. Your hands in the dirt, the joy of seeing things grow and flourish – it’s the miracle of nature. Whether you are growing vegetables or flowers or both, the effect can be great. Both the actual work and being able to observe the results in stressful moments are stress reducers. Container gardening can give the same benefits if you don’t have other garden space.
D.I.Y. Projects (interior design/redecorating, outdoor projects that enhance your patio or yard, organizing your closet, decluttering your living/workspace) Although these involve work, they also engage your creative mind. How can you make any of these spaces more enjoyable, comfortable, or functional? The process takes you away from your sources of stress and overwhelm into a space of creativity.
Culinary Arts (cooking, baking, cake decorating, creating new recipes, etc.) Trying new things, creating something different, developing a new food-related skill can all be relaxing and give you additional options when you are stressed.
Personal Care Art (nail art, makeup, hair styling, etc.) Learning and practicing any of these can both be relaxing and save you money if you are paying to have them done. It’s time alone, self-care and creativity combined.
Creative Writing (blogging, journaling, poetry, articles and books, songwriting) Writing is magical. Choose a type of writing that is comfortable or experiment with another form. Journaling in particular can be a way to release and uncover what is going on internally and process both the internal and external. It’s a way to sort out the unpleasant and positive things that are happening and to deal with the one and celebrate the other. You can gain perspective that reduces your stress on a daily basis. I’ve written about different techniques of journaling here: https://carolbrusegar.com/journaling-as-a-tool/ and here: http://carolbrusegar.com/journaling-techniques-to-boost-your-creativity/
Try some of these creative activities for relaxation that release your creativity, allowing you to refocus your energy and open up space for new ways to approach the stresses of life. Find things that you love doing; that makes you relax and be in touch with your inner self. You will be amazed at the results!
If you would like to explore multiple ways to journal and how they enhance your life, you can sign up for my FREE e-course on journaling:
I’m Carol Brusegar, author, photographer and curator of information. My focus is on gathering and writing on topics that enhance all our lives – regardless of our age. Topics include health and wellness, personal development, innovation and creativity, and a variety of helpful, practical tools and practices. I have a special interest in helping people over 50 years of age to create their 3rd Age – the next stage of their lives – to be the best it can be.