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The Mental Health Benefits of Creating Art

Unfortunately, many people still believe that in order to consider yourself a real artist, you must create a masterpiece painting or a sculpture. Many individuals also think that people are specifically born or not born with artistic talent. While the latter may be true, we are all born with the desire and ability to express ourselves, and there is no better way than art to achieve this, especially regarding our mental health.

Art Can Help You Relieve Stress

If you are under a lot of stress and you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone about it, try expressing yourself without words. Drawing, sculpting, painting or simply sketching abstract pictures that represent your feelings related to past stressful experiences is a simple, yet effective way to process your emotions and heal. Creating art will also distract you and give your brain a much-needed break from your usual ways of thinking. It is scientifically proven that art helps you lower the stress hormone cortisol.

One of the most popular artistic activities for stress relief is using a coloring book or art journaling. In fact, most coloring books for adults have been created specifically to relieve stress and help you unwind. Art journaling should be a place to record your thoughts, memories, and emotions through images, art, and words. If you don’t want to share your creations with others, art journaling is one of the most forgiving ways to make art, because everything you create will be safely contained within your own personal book.

To get started with art journaling, gather some basic artsy supplies such as unlined journal, paint (acrylic or watercolor are good choices), pencil and a permanent artist pen in black. A white background can seem pretty scary, so start by making a beautiful background. You can make a messy acrylic background, watercolor dots, or whatever you feel like doing. Many people love the tissue paper painting technique. All it requires is tissue paper, a brush, and water, and it is very simple and fun.

I suggest making a mandala or tracing your hand. Pattern drawing is very relaxing while tracing your hand will undoubtedly remind you of some happy childhood moments. Use your hand to express something about your mood today like things you would like to let go or are holding emotionally. To relax, art therapists also suggest finger painting, painting to music, drawing in sand or drawing with your eyes closed.

Art Helps to Encourage Creative Thinking

Unlike math, art doesn’t’ require you to know the right answer. Through art, you can come up with your own unique type of solution. Art is particularly beneficial to your mental health because it stimulates your mind and has both of your brain hemispheres working.

When you create art, you engage in abstract and analytical thinking, sharpen your visual-spatial acuity, and become more receptive to out-of-the-box thinking. Many gallerists have decided to incorporate art therapy activities to encourage people to embrace their inner artist and express themselves.

Art Can Boost Self-Esteem and Self-Appreciation

As hanging a child's artwork on a wall can boost their self-esteem and sense of accomplishment, doing the same with your own art can have the same effect. You don’t have to create something perfect to obtain these feelings, and it absolutely doesn’t matter what type of art you create. This should be a moment of self-appreciation and self-respect. So display your art proudly!

Art therapy activities that could help you boost your self-esteem and sense of accomplishment include collaging your vision of a perfect day or thinking up a wild invention that would make you happier. Surrealists loved automatic drawing because that was an excellent way to incorporate randomness and the subconscious into their work, and free themselves from everyday thinking and rigid artistic conventions. Perhaps, try this yourself by drawing something that represents freedom for you.

Art Improves the Overall Quality of Life

Studies suggest that art improves memory and cognitive abilities, especially if those individuals suffer from mental illnesses such as dementia. Research indicates that while some drug treatments don't always work very well in these instances, creating art provides a great sense of pleasure and can reduce various symptoms associated with dementia.

Art Eases the Burden of Chronic Health Conditions

In The Connection between Art, Healing, and Public Health: A Review of Current Literature, researchers analyzed more than hundred studies done on the effects of art on physical and mental health. They found that visual arts and music help patients focus on positive life experiences. Creating art helped them remember who they were before they become unwell. It gave them a sense of accomplishment and means to express their feelings and emotions in a healthy way.

To face some unpleasant aspects of life, with the goal of overcoming them, experts believe it is best to make art that is ephemeral. Sand painting can be used for healing purposes. Express your emotions in the sand and just watch how the wind blows it all away. Don’t hesitate to draw your worries or fears. Doing so will help you face them. You don’t have to be direct – you can simply cut out pictures from magazines to metaphorically represent your worries. If you are still not ready to do this, perhaps start by drawing a place where you feel safe.

Author's Bio


Thomas is an art enthusiast who enjoys cooking, painting and binge-watching Netflix. His favorite contemporary artists are Ai Weiwei and Damien Hirst. He believes art is the most powerful way to heal the world.

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