Art Therapy For Anxiety 2023: Benefits & 5 Activities To Try At Home

Reviewed by Dr. Theresa Bautista, OTD, OTR

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art therapy for anxiety
The therapeutic benefit of art therapy for anxiety! Photo: Shutterstock

Are you looking for a unique way to manage your anxiety? Art therapy is a powerful form of therapeutic intervention that taps into the healing power of creativity. It requires you to actively participate in art-making as a way to address anxiety symptoms, enhance emotional well-being, and promote self-expression.

Keep reading to learn more about art therapy and how you can do it from the comfort of your own home!

Does Art Therapy Work For Anxiety?

Art therapy holds tremendous potential in helping individuals with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).[1] It can also benefit people experiencing other types of anxiety disorders, including Panic Disorder and Social Anxiety Disorder. In addition to anxiety reduction, art therapy can provide an outlet for those experiencing severe depression symptoms.

Through creative expression, individuals can get in touch with their emotions and gain a better understanding of their triggers. Art-making can not only address severe anxiety symptoms but also help you manage your emotions better and improve your emotional resilience.

Moreover, art therapy recognizes the connection between the mind and body. By engaging in art therapy, individuals can alleviate physical symptoms associated with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and severe depression.

How Can Art Therapy Help With Anxiety?

One of the primary ways art therapy helps with anxiety is by providing a powerful outlet for non-verbal expression. Anxiety often comes with difficulty expressing thoughts and emotions verbally. Art therapy allows individuals to visually represent their experiences, fears, and worries, bypassing language barriers and accessing deeper layers of the subconscious. 

Don’t know where to start? Art therapists are trained professionals who specialize in helping individuals navigate their anxiety through artistic expression. They can facilitate a greater understanding of one’s anxiety triggers and patterns and provide a sense of relief through art. If you need one-on-one help with your mental health concerns, check out Talkspace and BetterHelp.

Benefits Of Art Therapy For Anxiety

Art therapy offers several benefits for individuals struggling with anxiety disorder. Here are some of the key ways in which art therapy can help alleviate anxiety symptoms:


Art therapy exercises for anxiety provide a safe outlet for individuals to express their thoughts, emotions, and anxieties.[2] Through visual arts such as drawing, painting, or sculpting, individuals can represent their inner experiences, facilitating a deeper understanding of the self and release of pent-up emotions.

Emotional Regulation

Engaging in the creative process during art therapy can help individuals regulate their emotions.[3] Active art-making allows for the exploration and processing of difficult feelings associated with anxiety disorders. Individuals who experience a lot of anger may also be able to use art to release pent-up emotions.

Stress Reduction

Art therapy serves as a form of stress relief.[4] The act of creating art can trigger a relaxation response, reducing cortisol levels and promoting a sense of calm. Furthermore, art provides a distraction from everyday stressors, allowing the mind to focus on the present moment and find solace in the creative flow.

Self-Awareness & Insight

Art therapy techniques for anxiety encourages self-reflection and introspection.[5] By creating art, individuals gain insight into their anxiety triggers, thinking patterns, and underlying emotions. This increased self-awareness can support the development of coping strategies and provide a foundation for personal growth.

Empowerment & Confidence-Building

Engaging in art therapy can boost your confidence.[6] Creating artwork allows individuals to see their strengths and capabilities. It can improve your self-esteem by helping you feel a sense of accomplishment.

Communication & Social Connection

Art therapy can facilitate communication and social interaction.[7] In group art therapy settings, individuals with Generalized Anxiety Disorder can connect with others who share similar experiences, providing a sense of validation, support, and belonging.

What Is Art Therapy?

art therapy for anxiety
Finger painting art therapy. Photo: Shutterstock

During art therapy exercises, individuals are encouraged to engage in various art activities such as drawing, painting, sculpting, or collage-making under the guidance of a trained art therapist. The focus is not on producing aesthetically pleasing artwork but on the process of creation and self-reflection.

The artwork serves as a medium of communication through which individuals can express their thoughts, feelings, and experiences that may be difficult to articulate verbally. It can be particularly beneficial for those who have difficulty expressing themselves using words, such as children with mental health disorders, individuals with developmental disabilities, or trauma survivors.

Music can also help address mental health challenges. If you’re interested in learning more about other types of therapy, check out this article on the best therapy programs.

Art Therapy Activities For Anxiety To Try At Home

Engaging in art therapy at home can be a valuable and accessible way to manage anxiety. Here are some art therapy activities specifically designed to help reduce anxiety that you can try at home:

Mindful Coloring

Coloring intricate patterns or mandalas can be a soothing meditative activity. Pay close attention to the colors and shapes and listen to the crayon as it glides across the paper. Allow yourself to be fully present in the moment, acknowledge your worries, and let it pass. Breathing exercises can also be incorporated during this activity.

Collage Creation

Creating a collage using images from magazines or personal photos is the perfect art therapy activity for individuals who are not particularly skilled at drawing or painting. Choose images that resonate with you. Take this opportunity to create something that reflects your future aspirations or your inner emotions.

Guided Drawing

Follow along with guided drawing tutorials or prompts. There are plenty of resources online that provide step-by-step instructions for drawing specific objects or sceneries. Drawing can help channel anxious energy into a focused and creative activity.

Journaling With Art

Combine writing and art by incorporating drawings, doodles, or colors into your journal entries. Use images to represent emotions or experiences that may be difficult to express in words alone. This combination of art and writing is a simple but effective outlet for self-expression.

Clay Or Playdough Sculpting

Working with clay or playdough can be an effective calming activity. Mold and shape the material without any specific goal in mind. Focus on the texture and other tactile sensations as you manipulate the clay, allowing it to serve as a stress-relieving and therapeutic outlet.


Art therapy offers numerous benefits for individuals experiencing anxiety. It is a way to express thoughts and emotions that lie deep within your subconscious. Engaging in the creative process in the comfort of your own home can help you explore your feelings of anxiety without the need for verbal expression.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does art therapy help individuals with anxiety express their emotions?

Art therapy provides a non-verbal form of communication, allowing individuals to visually represent their thoughts, emotions, and anxieties. Through various art mediums such as drawing, painting, clay modeling, or sculpting, individuals can express their inner experiences, facilitating a deeper understanding and release of pent-up emotions.

What role does art therapy play in regulating emotions for individuals with anxiety?

Engaging in the creative process during art therapy helps individuals regulate their emotions. Creating art allows for the exploration and processing of difficult feelings associated with anxiety. Creative expression provides a sense of control and can be empowering for some individuals.

How does art therapy contribute to stress reduction in individuals with anxiety?

Art therapy promotes relaxation and serves as a form of stress relief. By immersing oneself in the creative process, individuals can distract from anxious thoughts and induce a state of mindfulness, reducing stress levels and promoting a sense of calm.

How does art therapy promote empowerment and confidence for individuals with anxiety?

Individuals with anxiety can use art as a coping strategy. Activities such as painting and collage-making can provide an opportunity to discover your strengths and capabilities. Art therapy fosters a sense of accomplishment and increases feelings of self-confidence.

+ 7 sources

MIDSS adheres to strict procurement guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutes, and medical associations. We work mainly with peer-reviewed studies to ensure the accuracy of the information. We avoid the use of tertiary references. You can read about how we ensure the accuracy and timeliness of our content in our editorial process.

  1. Abbing, A.C., Baars, E.W., Leo de Sonneville, Ponstein, A.S. and Swaab, H. (2019). The Effectiveness of Art Therapy for Anxiety in Adult Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Frontiers in Psychology, [online] 10. doi:
  2. (2023). APA PsycNet. [online] Available at:
  3. Liesbeth Bosgraaf, Spreen, M., Pattiselanno, K. and Susan van Hooren (2020). Art Therapy for Psychosocial Problems in Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Narrative Review on Art Therapeutic Means and Forms of Expression, Therapist Behavior, and Supposed Mechanisms of Change. Frontiers in Psychology, [online] 11. doi:
  4. Abbing, A.C., Leo de Sonneville, Baars, E.W., Bourne, D. and Swaab, H. (2019). Anxiety reduction through art therapy in women. Exploring stress regulation and executive functioning as underlying neurocognitive mechanisms. PLOS ONE, [online] 14(12), pp.e0225200–e0225200. doi:
  5. Hau, A., Tan-Ho, G., Thuy Anh Ngo, Ong, G., Poh Heng Chong, Dignadice, D. and Potash, J.S. (2019). A novel mindful-compassion art therapy (MCAT) for reducing burnout and promoting resilience for end-of-life care professionals: a waitlist RCT protocol. Trials, [online] 20(1). doi:
  6. Abbing, A., Baars, E., O. Van Haastrecht and Ponstein, A. (2019). Acceptance of Anxiety through Art Therapy: A Case Report Exploring How Anthroposophic Art Therapy… [online] ResearchGate. Available at:
  7. Hu, J., Zhang, J., Hu, L.-Y., Yu, H. and Xu, J. (2021). Art Therapy: A Complementary Treatment for Mental Disorders. Frontiers in Psychology, [online] 12. doi:


Dr. Stephanie Nichols is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor in Arizona. She’s passionate about helping women resolve their anxiety, depression, and chronic stress by restoring balance to their hormones, and digestive functioning. She also approaches autoimmune conditions from a whole-person standpoint and uncovers the deeper issues through advanced laboratory testing. Dr. Stephanie assesses her patients from a Naturopathic as well as a Traditional Chinese Medicine viewpoint. Her treatment plans are unique in that they are completely customized to suit each patient on a mental, emotional, and physical level. Dr. Stephanie earned her bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Food Sciences, with honors, from the University of Alberta. After recognizing the ability of food choices to impact several chronic diseases, she then pursued her Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine from the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, graduating with honors.She is a consultant and nutraceutical formulator for a number of companies as well as a freelance medical blog writer.


Theresa is a Doctor of Occupational Therapy and a Licensed Occupational Therapist based in Texas. She specializes in content writing, research, medical review, and consulting for health websites and health tech companies. As a clinician, her expertise is in outpatient pediatric and school-based therapy. She also has experience in hand therapy, hospital, rehab, home health, and telehealth settings. Theresa employs a holistic approach to serve individuals of all age groups, from children to older adults.

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