by Cara Batema
Your teen may have long forgotten the joy of coloring, getting messy with paints or passing the time with any variety of art project. Creating something from an array of materials is more than just a pastime—it’s a great way to de-stress or pull ourselves out of a funk. Crafting is a tool for self-expression that improves mood and reduces anxiety. Consider these DIY projects to help your teen reduce stress and help them relax.
1. Scrapbooking Ideas
There is something quite cathartic about taking what is already made and creating something new out of it. Collect magazines, pictures, colored paper or other objects, set out the scissors and glue and let your teen have at it.
Make a collage or a postcard for a specific person. Even if your teen doesn’t plan on giving their creation to someone, just making it activates different parts of the brain and might help them get their thoughts and feelings out in a healthy way. Also try cutting and pasting words to create a “permission slip,” a paper that gives your teen permission to do or feel things that come naturally to her.
2. Coloring Projects
Your teen doesn’t have to be Picasso to make art; in fact, it might help to remind your teen that they don’t have to be “good” at art to create it. Start easy with a coloring book or try a mandala, which is a circle with a pattern inside it. You can even have a blank mandala (just a circle on a blank sheet of paper) and have your teen fill it with their own design. These kinds of activities can distract your teen from what’s stressing them out and encourages them to focus on something else.
If simply coloring isn’t enough of a challenge for your teen, consider fun tricks like drawing in total darkness or painting an emotional state. You can even find time to talk to your teen about their art, such as asking if there’s a story that goes along with the picture or what feelings they associate with it.
3. Writing Poetry
Teenagers are notoriously emotional, and while some of them can easily put words onto paper to express how they feel, others have more difficulty with this. Try writing “found” poetry with your teen, which involves using books, magazines, newspapers or other text documents to find words or phrases that pop out. Circle the words and arrange them on a separate sheet of paper to create your own poem. You can also use magnetic poetry, which are words attached to magnets, and write poetry on your fridge. Activities like these encourage “flow,” or being in a near-meditative state when you’re focused on the present moment.
4. Creating Crafts for Display
Let your teen show off their DIY crafts; these objects might be useful in their daily routines or can simply be admired for the handiwork involved. Make a dreamcatcher, or a hoop with a spider-like web woven into it that “catches” bad dreams and allows good ones to pass. Collect a shallow tray, sand, pretty stones, and a miniature rake to create a small zen garden; raking patterns into the sand can generate a sense of calm. Sew a pillowcase or skirt. If sewing isn’t for you, try a no-sew craft such as a lap blanket.
5. Pampering Themselves
Every teen should have some kind of pampering activity that helps them relax. Experiment with spa-like activities for teens to encourage them to find time for relaxation. If your teen likes hot baths, make a lavender salt scrub or bath bomb with a refreshing scent. Sew a bag for rice, which can be microwaved to make it warm. Sew an eye mask for when your teen wants to sleep later but the sun is too disruptive.
6. Building Hands-On Tools
Teens who are anxious or hyperactive might like to do things with their hands to help them calm down. Rather than just purchasing a stress ball, have your teen make their own. Also consider a glitter jar, which is a clear jar or bottle filled with colored water and glitter; simply shake the bottle and get lost in the movement of the sparkles. These tools give your teen something else to focus on besides their troubles and something new to add to their anti-anxiety kit.
7. Baking for Stress Relief
DIY crafts for teens don’t have to be items that last a long time. Baking relies on exact measurements and precision, so it’s a focus-oriented task that also reduces stress. Cooking for other people also helps your teen feel a sense of purpose while baking, which is making loved ones feel good. Bake a cake and decorate it too—don’t be afraid to get messy with icing and different colors and designs. If your teen avoids sugar later in the day but loves cookies, challenge them with baking a sugar-free cookie.
DIY Projects are not only a clever way to get your teen away from their screens but also a great way for them to tap into new interests and discover hidden talents. If you have younger children, check out these fun art projects to keep them mentally stimulated and not focused on their anxiety.
Cara Batema is a musician, teacher, and writer who specializes in early childhood, special needs, and psychology. Since 2010, Batema has been an active writer in the fields of education, parenting, science, and health.
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