If you haven’t taken an art class since high school or don’t consider yourself “artsy,” art making can feel really far away and inaccessible. But you don’t have to be (or even want to be) a great artist in order to get the benefits of art-making to help you slow down your mind, use a different part of your brain, and connect to yourself. For lots of people (myself included) meditation can feel near impossible when I’m being bombarded with information from outside myself and anxiety inside of myself. Trying one of these simple exercises of observation and exploration can be a half-step–unplug from the ordinary and get absorbed in doing something new.

And if you want to learn more, join one of our free workshops. Participants report an improved mood, sense of connection, and self-awareness. Click here for our calendar.

  1. Perspective: Draw an everyday object (a glass, a chair, a floor lamp), but draw it upside down. This simple activity requires a surprising amount of concentration.
  2. Make a List: Journaling may seem daunting, but lists are a great way to get started–we all already know how to make lists1 Try “10 things That Make me Laugh” “10 Things That Don’t Suck” “10 Games I Played As a Kid” or “10 Movies I Will Never Watch Again.” There are no wrong answers (and you don’t have to share your list with anyone).
  3. Switch Hands: Draw an ordinary object with your non-dominant hand.
  4. Soundtrack Time Travel: Look up the soundtrack of a movie you loved as a teenager or kid and listen to it while going for a walk or doing daily chores. See what it sparks.
  5. 5 Senses: Write down 5 memories from the past 24 hours, one relating to each of the five senses (touch, taste, sound, smell, and sight). They don’t have to have anything to do with one another or be in any particular order.
  6. Self-Portrait in Lines: Draw the lines on the palm of your non-dominant hand. Notice how as you draw, you see finer and finer lines.
  7. Rewrite an old story: From memory, write down a familiar fairy tale or story you heard as a kid. Put in as many details as possible, but deviate from the original whenever you’re inspired to.
  8. Mail a memory: Pick a friend and write a one sentence note about a good time you had together–not something monumental, just a positive or funny memory. “Remember when we…” There isn’t a lot of space on a postcard, so no pressure to say too much!
  9. Find your name: Go for a walk in your neighborhood with fresh eyes, looking for the letters of your name–in sidewalk cracks, creeping vines, and yes, even on street signs. Take a picture of each. Can’t find a letter? It’s not cheating to make a letter out of rocks or fallen leaves.
  10. Move & Laugh: There’s choreography for so many songs on YouTube. Search “dance choreography” and try to move your way through one. If you’re anything like me, you will likely not be very good at it. Laugh at yourself.

Community Building Art Works is proud to join the #RWBPledge10 Collective to #ChallengeTheStigma on #WorldMentalHealthDay. Learn more.