Depression and Anxiety + Art Journaling

(page by Anke) How do you deal with depression and anxiety in your art journal? It’s easy enough to say that art journaling helps to process feelings, but what do you do when you are feeling suboptimal and want to purposely open up your journal to work through things? Moriah posted this question in the Get Messy Facebook group and the responses to it were just too amazing not to archive into the blog.

The question


The answers

page by Riet

page by Riet

“Have you seen the previous GM Seasons ? The Season of Adventure was a real Joy to me. The Season of happy too !” – Sofia

page by caylee

page by caylee

“During my episodes of anxiety and depression, it helps me a lot to visualize them. Does your anxiety have a color? Or can you give it a name? What would you like to tell your depression? Can you paint it? Maybe it helps to put it on a page and use another color – one that makes you happy – to cover the rest of the page, maybe even a part of the depression. If you’re more comfortable with words, write down what depression makes you think and then cover it up. Either positive words or simply “shut up, you f*****!” – whatever feels right for you. Anyway, big hugs to you <3!” – Anke “Hidden journalling. Write your heart out on a page and cover it up with something freeing, positive and peaceful / energizing!” – Jenny “I’m not prone to depression as such, but I write everything (and I mean absolutely everything) down in my written journal which really helps! Like Jenny says hiding written stuff is good. Whereabouts in London have you moved to? It is London isn’t it? Next time I’m down there, maybe we could meet up? London is my soul-place -it’s where I grew up – and try to go back as often as I can.” – Rebecca “Do something small and creative everyday, even if you don’t want to. It helps.” – Lynda “A friend of mine calls it “being in the wilderness”, when you move to a new place, you struggle through the vines but eventually it gets better. Be patient. Let your feelings out in your journal or in writing. Prompts are not necessarily the way to go, just go with your gut. My first pages in HK are super dark but they truly helped me not carry that within me.” – Vanessa “This is very different for everybody, of course. But what helps me is to work without prompts on this, and to just trust your thoughts and feelings. They will tell you what you need to art/let out. Depression and anxiety is very strong and loud. And when you do this it’s a way of acknowledging and embracing what you feel. And that’s it what all our emotions want: to be acknowledged. Instead of pushing away or suppressing them you put them on a paper and that’s what helped me to be ok with the feelings I don’t want to have. You make them smaller and smaller.” – Riet


page by Nancy

“The prompts with Lisa Sonora are always good. She’s doing 30 days of journaling right now and has a FB support group … I am prone to feeling down in the dumps with less sunlight. Do you have access to full spectrum light bulbs? Those seem to help me.” – M.E. ” I suffer from depression and when it starts to rear it’s ugly head I acknowledge the nasty feelings and going with it. What is amazing is that some of the stuff I create while depressed is amazing. Emotions can be a powerful creative force” – Sylvia

page by caylee

page by caylee

“Quite frankly, being able to make art is the major thing that makes life’s miseries worth enduring. Know you are not alone and here is a big hug all the way from Arizona. I look forward to seeing how you get your experiences on the journal page, it is so meaningful for me and others who struggle with depression.” – Nancy ” I like to write all the stuff down, like the worst stuff that you don’t want anyone to see and then cover it with layers of paint and collage for a background. Oh and Essie Smith has some beautiful prompts and a really special thing going over on her blog called Heart Journal.” – Emily “I have found creating anything a huge focus to help with those big feelings. Feelings can be hugely all encompassing and, especially if you feel things deeply and are finding it especially hard, pretty overwhelming. I have found the physical process of applying paint, printing and chopping up papers so therapeutic recently. It’s good to acknowledge all of those feelings in private pages or hidden journalling – (I expect we all have those!) and I have personally found it helpful to fixate on the physical process of making a page and it somehow turns into something positive and productive too!” – Jennifer

page by caylee

page by caylee

“Anxiety and sadness is what brought me to art journaling. But I am one, who normally needs to focus on the happy, colorful and fun things in my life. I am doing artjournal pages as a form of mindfulness then. What are all those small things in life that make it worth living? (Not just those obvious ones as family, friends, etc., but things like the first coffee in the morning, birds chirping, beautiful clouds). Sometimes I try to paint those things or just write lists, sometimes I transfer them into colors or collages. I think just creating is therapeutic. Doing something with your hands, no matter what prompt or what you are really doing.” – Sarah

page by Rebecca

“Willowing on youtube has a lovely 2 part free tutorial for working through emotions in an art journal page. I have often found it really helpful- i return to it again and again.” – Erin “Sometimes it’s writing down my anxious feelings and covering them up with paint (because the thought of someone reading them makes me more anxious), and sometimes I just need to journal about happier things to focus on. Sometimes I can’t come up with any words and just playing with paint helps.” – Katie

page by caylee

page by caylee

What about you? How do you deal with bad feelings through your art journaling?


  1. Riet

    Sharing is caring <3 Thanks to everyone who shared so openly and brave about this stigmatized topic! What a community! So proud to be part of it!

  2. Emily@squiggleandswirl

    This makes me so grateful( and proud) to be part of this caring and creative community !

  3. Rebecca

    I just have to say I am so appreciative and grateful for this new-found family of such diverse yet like-minded people! You are all awsome.

  4. Meghan Deinhard

    Thank you for this post… xoxoxo m

  5. Katie Smith

    oh, this is such a great post. Thank you for putting this together!

  6. Melody Willoughby

    This is exactly why I love this community. I am so very grateful that I found it.

  7. Jen Taylor

    Such a powerful post -what an amazing community and friends we have. It’s nice to know I’m not alone 🙂

  8. Heidi Lilley

    this needs to run again, more interviews all over again new posts…… i know for sure I could use it…….. i’m struggling so hard.