Slowing Time Down with Art

Red button with the word panic written on it.

Slowing Time Down with Art

Let’s talk about anxiety. Do you experience symptoms of Anxiety?

Throughout my career I have come to understand that indicators of anxiety are common in a world where we are consistently concerned with productivity, validation, and gratification.

Anxiety and its symptoms can stem from a variety of contributors. While specific fears and phobias are recognized, I think that it would be worthwhile to discuss the construct of general anxiety throughout this writing.

What do you mean general anxiety?

Well firstly, generalized anxiety can be understood as a mental illness through the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5). However, I personally find it important to steer focus away from pathology or diagnosis, but instead to focus on the feelings and symptoms of anxiety that are coming from within.

In order to begin to comprehend anxiety, it is important to distinguish between general feelings of worry and symptoms of anxiety. General feelings of worry can also manifest into anxiety over time.

Symptoms of anxiety often become noticeable as somatic or bodily feelings and sensations. Maybe the stimuli that you find triggers your anxiety is overwhelming social situations. Does the thought of interacting socially make you feel ill? Are you able to proceed and immerse yourself into these situations even though they bring discomfort? Have you ever experienced panic? Overthinking often contributes to anxiety. Do you notice that you have racing thoughts that are difficult to control?

Tracking these thoughts can serve as an aid into further understanding our anxiety as well as the individual triggers that cause it. It would be worth understanding that the concept of overthinking is a function that as a highly cognitive process.

The reason why I bring up the idea of cognitive functioning and processing is that, in order to work towards slowing and easing these thoughts, it is helpful to move towards states of mindfulness that focus on sensory stimuli.

Art is a way to bring yourself out of these complex and overwhelming thoughts. More specifically, different art mediums are helpful in the easing of different symptomologies. Working with mediums that provide more of a sensory input can provide insight in regards to emotional states and ease with cognitive blockages.

Anxiety and feelings of worry are often paired with stressors that prevent us from moving forward. It may feel like there isn’t enough time. We become so wrapped up in our own thoughts that we are unable to escape the stress and focus on our exterior environment . Therefore, me telling you to engage in a hobby that is sensory or tactile that doesn’t even have to be art may feel counterproductive, it may feel like a waste of time.

However, if we are able to begin to move away from these stressors and engage in mindfulness within moment we may notice that the racing thoughts begin to slow, therefore allowing us to in-turn enter anxiety provoking situations with a bit more ease.

Next time that you find yourself plagued with racing thoughts I challenge you to being to try to process and track them. More importantly, try to become engaged with an artistic medium. It does’t matter what it looks like 🙂

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Marlaina Jaques

Counsellor and Art Therapist. Providing services in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. If you or someone one you know needs help, please reach out.

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