10 Art Therapy Activities to Bring You Joy

10 Art Therapy Activities to Bring You Joy

Finding joy in your life may not be as easy as it sounds. For many people, discovering how to be truly happy can be a life-long challenge. As we are constantly bombarded with unrealistic expectations and pressure to be perfect, have perfect relationships, be perfect parents, it is common to feel sad and even depressed.

But why should we feel joy? What are the benefits? Finding the small things in life that bring us joy can have a huge impact on our mental health. If you are feeling joy, you will be healthier because happiness boosts our immune system. It helps relieve stress and is makes us more resilient. We experience life more deeply and develop a greater connection with our inner wisdom and to our Earth.

Here are 10 mindful art therapy activities to help you find joy. They are from the book, Art Therapy Activities to Find Joy.

10 Art Therapy Activities to Bring You Joy
10 Art Therapy Activities to Bring You Joy

1. A Collage of Joy

Look through some old magazines for images that make you feel happy. They might be images of people, flowers, animals or places. The aim of this activity is to create a collage of the things that bring you joy.

Tear each image out carefully – it is important that you don’t use scissors for this exercise. The act of tearing requires precise care, and this process will help relieve stress and promotes feelings of calmness.

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Take another deep breath and centre yourself where you are sitting. On the top of your paper, write “These things bring me joy”.

Now, collect your ’joyful’ images and arrange them on a sheet of paper. Once you are content with how they look, glue them down.

Remember to put the picture you made somewhere so you can see it every day to remind you of what brings you joy.

2. Modelling Clay 

Buy yourself some modelling clay in various colours or ‘borrow’ some from the kids. Take three, long, deep breaths. Choose one colour and begin to play with it. Roll it, squeeze it, and begin to make shapes. Add other colours as you continue to explore the texture. Allow your hands to create without any preconceived ideas. Notice the way it feels in your hands, how it smells and the overall sensations of the clay.

If you created an object of some kind, you could keep it and display it to remind you of feelings of joy. Alternatively, take a photo of it for later reference.

What made you happy about this activity? What caused you to feel joy? Was it the sensations of the touching the clay or was it the bright colours?

3. Draw Yourself Being Free

Create a drawing of freedom. What does freedom look like to you? What does it feel like? Where can you feel the sense of freedom in your body?

Take a deep breath and slowly release any stress. Begin by choosing any colour and draw the first thing that comes into your mind. Don’t analysis or judge what you have chosen. Let your mind decide.

If you are not sure how to begin, simply make marks on the paper. These might be lines or circles. The more you draw, the more you will let go.

Change colours any time you wish.

Always keep in mind the word ‘freedom’.

Breathe slowly throughout this activity.

4. Branching Out for Joy

Your task is to paint yourself as a tree. The trunk represents your body.  The leaves represent your dreams and hopes. While the roots represent your values – the things that keep you grounded and make you strong.

You don’t have to stick with the traditional colours of a tree. You can choose the colours that speak to you and that represent you in some way.

Breathe slowly and be joyful that you are resilient and present.

5. Sharing Joy

Your task is to share one (or more) positive post to a social media account of your choice for 30 days. You can choose Facebook, Instagram or Tik Tok, it doesn’t matter.

You must choose a meme, quote or image that is uplifting to you. Please don’t share ones that are sarcastic or ones that might undermine another person or groups of people. This goes against what this activity is trying to achieve.

You may ask people to comment or share the post privately, but it must be public or shared with your selected friends.

Some people may react negatively to your positive posts. That’s their choice, but it is important that you don’t react or stop yourself from completing this task.

To increase your happiness, you must share joyful ideas and energy. By sharing them, the same good energy will be returned to you. This will change your mindset and bring joy into your life.

6. A Box of Joy

Your task is to fill a box with things that bring you joy. These might be images you’ve obtained from magazines such as a car, flowers or food. You can also you objects from nature such as shells, leaves or stones. You can draw images or write words on paper, such as ‘sunshine’ or ‘sea breeze’.

Once you have collected your things in your box, create a name plate for the top, which speaks to you and why these things bring you joy. This might be “{your name} Box of Joy”, for example.

Leave the box in a place where you can access it a lot. Don’t hide it away. Open it often, touch the objects inside and enjoy them.

Also, just seeing the box will remind you each day of the things that bring you joy.

10 Art Therapy Activities to Bring You Joy
Mindful Art Therapy Activities to Bring You Joy

7. My Joyful Goals

Your task is to create a drawing of what you want to achieve. This might be moving to a new area, getting a better job or building a stronger relationship with someone. You may want to travel overseas or drive a luxury car. Draw whatever brings you joy.

Don’t worry if the goal seems unattainable. When we set our thoughts on something, the universe will arrange it to happen – we just need to be ready.

Once you have completed the mindful breathing exercise above, take another deep breath and bring the goal into your mind. Let your mind guide your pencil and create whatever it wants.

Focus on the sensations and pour your positive energy into what you are creating. Don’t worry if what you produce doesn’t make sense – it will to your subconscious. Display your drawing so you can see it each day and feel its powerful energy.

8. Warming Up to Joy

Your task is to create a painting using red and yellow paint. These warm colours will bring light and joy into your life. During the process, they will mix and create orange too.

Fold your piece of paper in half and open it again. Pour or drip red and yellow onto the crease. Now, refold the paper and, using your hands, push the paint from the centre outwards. Open up the paper and admire your creation.

Take a deep breath.

Repeat this activity as often as you like and compare the paintings you have created. 

9. Pictures of Joy

Your task is to create a series of photographs that bring you joy. The images you capture can be of anything or everything. You might find the bright face of flower, or a pet makes you feel happy. What about your favourite fruit or meal? Your favourite shoes, jewellery or a painting a child has created especially for you? The things that bring us joy don’t have to be expensive or grand. In fact, if you can find joy in the little things in life, you will find yourself feeling a greater sense of connectedness to yourself and to nature.

Create a folder to save your photos or print them out and place them on a board so you can see them all the time.

Share them on social media if you want. Use the title “Today this brought me joy!”

You could also choose to take three photos a day for over a month. Does that sound possible? The more you look, the more you will realise how many things bring you joy.

By surrounding yourself with the things that make you joyful, you will find your mood is lifted and your perspective on life changed for the better.

10. A Flower of Joy

Your task is to create a painting from torn pieces of tissue paper. On your piece of paper or card, draw a large flower. Fill up the space completely with the petals, stem and leaves.

Now, tear up pieces of tissue paper and glue them down to create your flower. Use as many different colours as you can.

Don’t stick to the conventional colours. Instead, use a different colour than green for the leaves or pink for the petals, if you choose. Mix things up and be adventurous – using courage to break away from expectations will bring you joy.

Homemade glue – simply mix flour with water until you get a thick, sticky consistency. This is the same recipe for paper mâché and works very well for messy activities.

Remember

Being joyful is an ongoing endeavour. It will come and go depending upon what is happening, it may seem too hard to find, but it is there, inside you, waiting to explode.

If you would like to explore how mindful arts therapy can help you, please drop me a line or you are welcome to pick up a copy of my ebook, Finding Joy, for only 99c(AU).

Finding Joy by Mindful Arts Therapy
Finding Joy by Mindful Arts Therapy

Start Your Art Therapy Journey Today!

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Susan Day
Susan Day
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