Guest post by Sandi Schwartz
Art may seem like just a fun way to keep kids busy, but it has so many remarkable benefits including helping them feel more relaxed. Creativity provides a healthy outlet for children to express and cope with their emotions in a safe, calm way. It allows them to tap into the right side of the brain where creativity, intuition, visualization, emotions, and daydreaming stem from. It has also been shown to develop many positive characteristics and help children lead happy, successful lives.
Reasons Why Art Helps Reduce Stress
There are four main reasons why art helps kids feel calmer:
- Provides a healthy distraction. An important way to manage stress is to distract ourselves from what is tormenting our minds. Art is a great way to focus on something more positive, productive, and inspiring.
- Triggers a sense of flow. Kids can become so absorbed in their artwork that they achieve a state of flow, the sense of being completely engaged in an activity to the point of being in a near-meditative state. This helps them forgot about all their worries and even lose track of time.
- Increases mindfulness. Children feel more mindful and, in the moment, when they are engaged in doing something creative. This helps to quiet the mind as they become more concerned with doing the task at hand as completely and mindfully as possible.
- Provides an avenue for self-care. When kids have a hobby they enjoy, it helps them feel more balanced and allows for mental and emotional downtime.
Combining Art and Nature to Bust Stress
We also know that nature can be very beneficial to our children. There are now hundreds of studies confirming that spending time in nature can help them feel happier and calmer. Since both art and nature are such effective (and fun!) stress reduction tools, it is important that we help our kids connect with nature and be inspired by it to create a masterpiece. By doing nature art, we teach them to look for beauty and awe around them, encourage them to spend more time outside, and help them find a healthy way to manage tension.
Nature is filled with so much beauty to spark creativity in our kids. The colors, textures, patterns, light, and creatures all provide inspiration for kids to get creative. They can really connect to the natural world through hands-on nature art projects.
Types of Nature Art For Your Kids
There are many ways for our kids to experience nature art. The trick is to inspire their creativity by exposing them to different types of natural scenery. Take trips as a family to see science museums, butterfly gardens, arboretums, aviaries, botanical gardens, zoos, mountains, forests, hiking trails, beaches, waterfalls, sunsets, sunrises, canyons, and caves to get those creative juices flowing. Here are a few types of nature art activities to try with your kids:
Head outside for a nature walk and ask your kids to pick up natural items they spot on the way, such as sticks, grass, pebbles, feathers, leaves, pinecones, etc. They can then use them to make a beautiful nature collage to hang in your home.
The options are endless since our kids can find inspiration to draw nature all around them, from your local park to science museums and nature centers to a trip to the ocean. There are also some wonderful books available to teach children how to draw animals, flowers, trees, leaves, shells, and other beautiful aspects of nature.
You can use any type of paints from watercolor, acrylic, or even children’s paint sets. A really fun way to get your kids’ going is to take them outside in your backyard and set up the paint set and easel and ask them to paint what they see. Even if it’s raining or too cold outside, set them up by a window to paint. Imagine the gorgeous snow scene they can paint during a winter storm!
Photography is a wonderful art form to help reduce stress that we can share with our children. It serves as a type of mindfulness meditation in which kids can get lost in the moment and experience a sense of flow while snapping photos with a camera. The whole process helps them hone in on the colors, shadows, and other elements to capture the best photo.
Mandalas are circular designs with concentric shapes that radiate out symmetrically from the center. They can be very soothing to create and are even used in therapy to help patients relax.
Start by heading outdoors to gather natural items like leaves, flower petals, sticks, rocks, grass, pinecones, pine needles, feathers, sand, shells, soil, etc. Then find an open area to work and identify the center of your mandala by marking it with one of your items.
Create one layer of the pattern at a time by building a circular layer around your center item and radiating your design from the center point. Continue adding on as many layers as you want. Try to alternate colors and textures to make it interesting. Be sure to capture the moment by snapping a few photos of your calming nature mandala.
by Sandi Schwartz, Guest Author
Bio: Sandi Schwartz is an author, journalist, and mother of two. As the founder and director of the Ecohappiness Project, her mission is to inspire and educate families to build a nature habit to feel happier and calmer. Both her parenting book, Finding Ecohappiness: Fun Nature Activities to Help Your Kids Feel Happier and Calmer, and children’s book, Sky’s Search for Ecohappiness, are available now. Learn more at www.ecohappinessproject.com.