Therapy For Fun

Recently, Alice Bradley wrote a great entry on her blog about her first watercolor class after her therapist instructed her to do something fun. She mentions how important she realizes that is, especially as someone who suffers from depression.

I want everyone else to have something like this. Especially those of us dealing with depression–we who tend to focus more on feeling okay, on avoiding pain, than seeking out joy.

I don’t suffer from depression, but I do have issues with anxiety and exercise has turned out to help me a lot with that. Unfortunately, for awhile there, I wasn’t able to exercise. And even before reading Alice’s article about how therapeutic “fun” is – I had found myself incredibly addicted to local painting classes.

I actually painted this with a friend of mine the night I found out I was pregnant and I remember, just feeling like the swirls were helping calm me. I mean – I’ve done those painting classes before, once every few months for a special occasion, but that night? It totally calmed me. I started coming up with excuses to do more. For example, E’s grandmother’s 75th birthday was coming up! It would be a great gift from him to her and a great outing for he and I! LET’S DO IT!

And we had a blast! Not only was the painting therapeutic but these classes are great to do with friends or family because you don’t have to talk the entire time, but the freedom is there to chat. It’s very casual. E and I caught up on a lot of stuff but it was just an easy hang out time…mixed in with a lot of giggling.

Then I talked Donnie into doing a Date Night with me to a class. This is our third one together and he loves it as much as I do. Of course, that was the fateful night of the second hemrrage associated with the nasty hematoma, but I love these classes so much I didn’t even let that thwart it.

Then I did something I never thought I’d do, I went to a class? ALONE

And being there alone, just painting, I realized how amazing this whole thing was for me. Just the zoning out on this picture and these swirls and dots – it just let me escape from whatever was haunting me.

And then Sunday? I took the kids!

It was PERFECT for Nikki. I’ll take her back again. Wes got a bit bored. He had fun, but he just wanted to paint, not listen to the teacher or do anything like everyone else was doing. Nikki was half and half. Once she got her groove? She didn’t care what the teacher said and just started mixing colors and adding circles like a crazy woman. It was fantastic.

And we do hang these up in our home! We love them!

I guess I’ll be running again soon now that I’m no longer pregnant. But man, I really enjoyed these classes as a substitute for awhile. I’m sure I’ll go back again, just maybe not once or twice a week. They are a bit pricey if you don’t have coupons or vouchers.

And while this class I go to is offered in several cities (Chattanooga, Huntsville, Knoxville, Little Rock, Richmond) I know that there are several others in Huntsville as well. So even if you don’t live in one of those cities, I’m betting someone does these once in awhile in your city. They’re great outings and wonderful therapy. AS LONG as you aren’t the kind of person that stresses out over perfection. I don’t. But I’ve been in classes with women and men who get REALLY stressed about not doing it perfectly. That’s probably not as therapeutic!

Do you have anything like this? And art therapy for just…fun?


  • Heather

    Athens, GA has a couple of those places – they look like fun and a friend of mine has done a couple of them and had as much fun as you have been having.

  • Susan

    A while back, my friends picked an advanced painting class that took 3 hours to complete, and I was SO stressed. Even while drinking a very large daiquiri, I could not relax. I needed a massage the next day because my shoulders were so tense! So, painting might not be my thing. LOL! But, watercolors at home with my 3 year old is really fun, and so much less stressful. My artsy/crafty stress reliever is knitting. I can’t do anything more complicated than scarves and baby hats, but I enjoy it in the fall/winter. And, after I’m done, I get to give my work away as a gift. That always feels so good.

  • Michelle Smiles

    I used to facilitate art therapy groups back when I worked at a domestic violence shelter. And I often did art projects with my adolescents when I worked in a mental health group. There were always people who grumpled that it was a waste of time to play with scissors and glue when we were supposed to be doing work in group. But so many people shared things during those sessions that never would have been shared otherwise. And grown ups (not all…but some) tend to get a goofy grin and experience a type of joy while doing a project – so worthwhile.

    I have recently started going art at home as my hobby (no idea what I will do with all of these canvases). I find it very therapeutic too.

  • Heather

    Oh my goldfish I want you to come and paint my whole house! Those are wonderful! What is the name of the company that does the classes?

    I also wanted to say how much I can relate to needing a little fun and a little happy, even when something so sad or scary is going on that it almost seems inappropriate to be having any joy at all…I remember when my mom was seriously ill in the hospital but it was my daughter’s birthday and we had a party for her and it was so fun but I just felt like “I should not be having fun…my mom might die…” even while I know how happy it makes my mom when I DO have fun and that is totally what she would want, not me sitting around her hospital room while she is unconscious, crying like a baby. Luckily, my mom is better and I am so glad I had that special day with my daughter who is grown up and at college now.

    When you do get back to running, I saw this run and I thought, this is SO MISS ZOOT! It is called The Color Run (it is not associated with Pride or anything but a lot of people think it is because of the color.) It is just about running for joy and being happy and enjoying life. Here is a video of the Portland one…