a person coloring a floral drawing on sketch pad

Healing with Art: How Art Therapy Can Relieve Stress and Improve Mental Health

The stresses of daily life often hide the fact that we can steal moments of selfcare through art therapy. Art therapy is a form of therapy that uses creative expressions, such as painting, drawing, and sculpting, to promote mental and emotional wellness. Unlike traditional art, the focus of art therapy is not on creating a masterpiece but rather on the process of making art and the emotions and thoughts it brings up.

simple artwork
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According to a study by the American Art Therapy Association, “art therapy can help clients improve cognitive and sensorimotor functions, enhance self-esteem and self-awareness, reduce anxiety, and increase feelings of happiness and well-being.” (https://arttherapy.org/about-art-therapy/). According to American Art Therapist, Dr. Natalie Rogers, “Art therapy is a powerful tool in promoting mental health because it allows individuals to express themselves in a non-verbal and creative way.”

In today’s 24/7 social media and news cycle, stress and anxiety are becoming increasingly common. The simple act of coloring or doodling can be a great way to slow your mind down and relieve stress. In fact, a study published in the International Journal of Stress Management found that coloring mandalas (a geometric design used in Hinduism and Buddhism) can help reduce anxiety levels. (https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2015-06401-015).

Art can also be therapeutic to view. Just looking at art can be calming and bring a sense of peace to the mind. “Exposure to visual art has been associated with increased physiological relaxation and improved mood in healthy individuals, as well as with beneficial effects on mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.” – “The Relaxation Response Induced by Visual Art: A Study of Art Therapy Techniques,” Frontiers in Psychology, 2013.

Here are five examples of art therapy projects you can try today:

  1. Collage making: Cut out images from magazines that represent your feelings and paste them onto a piece of paper.
  2. Drawing your emotions: Draw a picture that represents how you are feeling in the moment.
  3. Clay sculpting: Use clay to create a sculpture that represents a feeling or memory.
  4. Journaling: Write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal alongside a drawing or painting.
  5. Mandala coloring: Find a mandala design online and color it in with your favorite colors.

Art therapy can be a powerful tool for improving mental health and well-being. Whether it’s through creating art or simply viewing it, the benefits are undeniable. So why not give it a try and see how it can improve your mental and emotional health today.

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