HOW CREATING ART JOURNALS HELPED ME COPE WITH ANXIETY

this week, artist + designer of stellar design, keyonna butler, shares her story about how art journaling helped her cope with social anxiety.

photo credit: http://dreamidle.tumblr.com

photo credit: http://dreamidle.tumblr.com

Ever since high school, I felt there was something about me that was different from my classmates. I didn’t know what it was or how to explain it, but I knew it was something because I would become physically sick at the thought of spending another day in school, being around so many people at once... There were times where I felt suffocated in my surroundings. It eventually got so bad that I was sent to the hospital during my freshman year of college. I didn’t understand why I was feeling this way until that very moment I was laying in my hospital bed; that moment explained it all: I had anxiety. I didn’t know how I would be able to cope with this on an every day basis. Now that I was aware of it, it made me feel like there was something wrong with me. I wasn’t able to concentrate in school and it was also affecting my performance at work, too. I needed to find a way for my anxiety to stop taking over my life... That’s when I discovered art journaling.

Art journaling is the process of expressing your thoughts through images instead of words. It became a way for me to explore other art mediums such as collage art and painting. I was also able to creatively put my thoughts on paper by sketching visual representations of my emotions. The best part of art journaling is that you can create your own safe space; you create whatever you want with your art and experiment with shapes, colors, and muses.

Art journaling was a great practice for me to get inspiration for my own art while also letting me express my personal feelings without shame or guilt. Most importantly, it helped me cope with my anxiety. Whenever I felt that feeling of suffocation I would just count to 10, take out my sketchbook and draw or sketch how I was feeling. Just taking 10 minutes of my time to put thoughts on paper really helped me learn to communicate exactly what I was feeling. It was my form of meditation.

Still, to this very day, I keep an art journal with me so that when I’m out and I find something that inspires me or if I’m feeling uneasy at a social event, I can take out my journal and sketch. That helps calm my nerves but it also helps me start conversations with others once I show them my work. I definitely recommend keeping an art journal with you, whether you think you are creative or not. It’s not about being the next great artist, it's just about being able to convey how you feel with visuals. Art journaling is literally the process of expressing how we see the world during a specific time; it creates the opportunity for us to look back and observe the journey of one’s life. Art journaling was a saving grace for me, not just as an artist, but as a person with learning to live and cope with anxiety.

Now, I understand that how I feel isn’t strange or abnormal. I now have a place where I can release my inner thoughts and imagination without a care in the world. With my art, I now know I’m finally free.

Keyonna Butler is an emerging designer and part -time writer for self-driven website, Stellar Lifestyle. Having done projects in the fields of designing, illustration and styling, Keyonna has over 5 years of experience in the fashion industry and have worked with designers such as Dah'mod Collins of RM67, Ayasa Afi and Annina King of Granate' Pret Clothing. Now, she is currently on the journey of entrepreneurship will the launch of her own clothing line, Stellar Design. Keyonna is based in Philadelphia, PA but has aspirations in working in destinations such as New York, Tokyo, Japan and South Africa. 

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