With midterm season already here and the recent swarm of (definitely not extra) first, second, and third–round club interviews, Penn can definitely feel a little overwhelming around this time of year. But like it or not, if you do choose to deal with the stress, expression of this stress can be hard. And that’s why art therapy can be so useful. 

Here are six ways to destress through art: 

1. Pick up an adult coloring book: Turns out coloring is not just for children. The concept of adult coloring has been around for decades, but only recently has it picked up in popularity. The beauty of it is that it is supposed to makes you feel more in control of your life as you color inside the lines. As psychologist Gloria Martinez Ayala puts it, coloring “brings out our imagination and takes us back to our childhood, a period in which we most certainly had a lot less stress.” So find your adult coloring book now. 

2. Wreck This Journal: The staple of every Urban Outfitters store, Wreck This Journal is an illustrated book by YOU. The goal is to challenge each reader to turn their mistakes into masterpieces. It’s a metaphor, you see—you put what’s killing you in front of you, but you don’t give it the power to do its killing. (SIDE NOTE: This is a reference to The Fault in Our Stars, for those of you who have been lucky enough not to have watched or read it). Another alternative is to create your own book—which might honestly be a smarter option (IMO), as Wreck This Journal is a hefty $15 for paper you are meant to destroy. 

3. Paint Throwing: Grab a bucket of paint and a canvas/poster and just start throwing. The psychology behind it is that it’s supposed to have you unleash any suppressed emotions and project it into a form of art. For many who have done it, it’s equivalent to lifting a heavy weight off of their shoulders. And really, isn't splattered paint just modern art? 

4. Start a Collage: Using images scrapped from different sources makes it easier to express yourself to others, or even just yourself. From every scrap that you choose, you learn so much more about yourself. This, in turn, helps you peel back the layers upon layers of your emotions. 

5. Make a Pot: There’s nothing more satisfying than watching a slab of clay come together into a smooth silky pot—the creation of perfection from chaos, just like your life! And you can do it on campus in the ceramics facility of the Charles Addam Fine Arts Building. Whether you want to wheel throw, hand build, mold make, or cast, the facilities are equipped with what you would need to destress. Full list of resources here

6. Attend a BYOB Art Class: Get drunk AND churn out the next masterpiece—at the same time. It’s a great alternative to the average weekend at Penn for relaxing and destressing. Check out Street’s list of BYOB art classes. 

Here’s your reminder to put yourself first; before your classes, before your clubs, and before your peers. There’s no one else who will take care of you as much as you can—and who knows, maybe doing it in a creative way is the best way. 


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