Calming Anxiety through Art

Drawing and painting are good activities for mental health and self care as they can:

  • Help you feel less stressed, help take your mind off things by distracting you, be a good way to express your thoughts.
  • It is not about creating the perfect It is about enjoying the process, being able to express yourself and getting caught up in an activity you enjoy doing.
  • You don’t need to be an expert or to have studied Just sitting down and creating something just for fun can be a great act of self care.

These are some ideas:

For Parents:

A calm adult will help a child stay calm. So make sure to take some time each day for self care, 15 minutes is great, five minutes also works.

  • Draw a circle, outline with a Inside, colour, decorate as you will; patterns, doodles, scribbles, colour, collage.

Visual Journal

  • Make your own: Reuse an old book, get different types of paper, punch holes and tie with string, use a
  • Some prompts: Make a colour code for your feelings, there is no right or wrong colour for your feelings, your choice (e.g., fear, sadness, curiosity, safety, joy, anger, shame, grief, hope, courage)
  • What is in my heart today?
  • Draw a ginger bread man How do different parts of your body feel? Colour those parts with your chosen colour for those feelings. No judgement. All is good.
  • Get a mindful colouring book, put on some music and

For Children:

Play together:

  • Dress up, build hide outs and caves, act a favourite fairy story
  • If you can go outside:
    • Make wind chimes – tie with
    • Make spirals with stones, paths, shapes, mud
  • Wash your hands when you come inside!
  • Inside:
    • Make a sensory jar or box: fill a container with soft, squishy, tactile
    • Make Use it to make a stress ball, animals, a family, characters from a favourite TV programme.
    • How to make playdough: 8 tbsp plain flour, 2 tbsp table salt, 60ml warm water, food colouring, 1 tbsp vegetable oil; mix together:
    • recipe
  • Draw stories.
  • Do some colouring.
  • Make a collage: use old magazines, craft materials, glue, cut and paste pictures and create
  • Squiggle games: one person draw a scribble, the other turn it into a
  • Tangle doodles: draw your hand and your child’s hand: fill in each hand with simple marks and patterns with coloured
  • Make masks: if you do not have plastic masks, use sides of cereal Play pretend wearing the masks.
  • Make puppets: use old Stick on googly eyes. If children are big enough, they could make mouths and noses by stitching. Otherwise use strong markers.
  • Blow bubbles:
    • For calmness: your child can see if they can control the size of the bubble by taking deep breaths and blowing out slowly or
      • For a lively activity: blow bubbles and your child pops them with a body part that you name, for example: with their knee, elbows, toes

Listening for calmness:

  • Ask your child to close their eyes; strike a teaspoon on a glass: listen to the sound until they can no longer hear When it has stopped ask them to listen to everything they can here and after a minute ask them to name what they heard.

Catch your worry thoughts:

  • Draw a ginger bread man
  • Ask your child: where is the worry in your body and what does it look like?
  • Draw this by using shapes and


  • Visual journal:
    • Get a sketch book, or an old book and tear up, cover up, glue in
    • Fingerprint faces: doodle faces of different feelings onto
    • Make art to music: put on different beats, moods
    • Where do you want to be in five years?
    • Journal about things that inspire
    • Family and friends that support who I
    • Challenges in my
    • No theme at all – just doodles and random
    • Things that make you laugh.
  • Draw:

Provided by Primary Care Child & Family Psychology Service St. Camillus Hospital Limerick.