What Art Therapy Can Do For You – by Tabitha Dumas

Are you feeling stressed or anxious? Are you experiencing a creative slump? Do you need a way to decompress without resorting to alcohol or pharmaceuticals (or in my case, chocolate or shopping)?

If so, you probably need therapy. Art therapy, that is.

Beat Stress

“Art therapy,” whether painting, drawing (even doodling!), mixed media, sculpting or even crocheting, works wonders for children and seniors but can be extremely beneficial to the average person as well.

Robert Reiner, Ph.D., a New York University psychologist, asserts that “The act of performing a craft is incompatible with worry, anger, obsession, and anxiety. Crafts make you concentrate and focus on the here and now and distract you from everyday pressures and problems. They’re stress-busters in the same way that meditation, deep breathing, visual imagery, and watching fish are.”

In other words, you can’t worry and craft at the same time.

Creative people often have a hard time turning their brain off and find things like meditation and deep breathing exasperating or even impossible. Rather than trying to “quiet your mind,” engage your mind in an artistic pursuit instead.

Get Un-stuck

The aforementioned combination of focus and distraction often leads to creative ideas that are completely unrelated to the task at hand. Experiencing writer’s block? Pick up your paint brush! When you are absorbed in the task of mixing your blues and reds to create the perfect shade of purple, you might just spontaneously come up with a solution to a problem that’s been irking you for weeks.

Relax

Here’s another expert, Harvard University’s Herbert Benson, M.D., who says that repetitive and rhythmic crafts such as knitting may even evoke what he calls the relaxation response—a feeling of bodily and mental calm that’s been scientifically proven to enhance health and reduce the risk of heart disease, anxiety, and depression. “You can induce the relaxation response through any type of repetition, whether it’s repeating a word, prayer, or action, such as knitting or sewing,” he notes. “The act of doing a task over and over again breaks the train of everyday thought, and that’s what releases stress.”

If you have a hard time justifying your creative hobby, just remember that it’s a part of your total wellness plan.

Getting Started

You don’t need your own pottery kiln or an entire studio to incorporate more creative expression into your life.

Treat yourself to an artist’s pad and a set of watercolor paints. Enroll in a class at your local craft store. Look for instructional videos on YouTube for something artistic you’ve always been interested in trying. Take your camera to a local attraction or destination you’ve never visited before. Ask a friend who knits or paints to teach you how.

The next time you’re feeling stressed, stuck or wound up, do something creative and see what happens. And why not enjoy that piece of chocolate or a glass of wine while you’re at it?

{quotes sourced from http://www.nancymonson.com/craft-to-heal}

About Our Guest Blogger
Tabitha Dumas is a self-proclaimed craftaholic as well as a writer, blogger and color & image consultant. Tabitha loves partnering with artistic people to provide bio rewrites as well as editing, copy writing services and creative consultations to help them move forward with their creative projects.

If you need assistance with writing your Artist Statement or perhaps some help with writing your online profiles or “About” pages, contact Tabitha for more information at letmerephrasethat@gmail.com or (602) 349-1129.

Check out Tabitha’s Blogs at www.craftyourstyle.com as well as on www.fantabulouswomen.com.

3 Comments

  • I want to thank you, you are so spott on. I am dealing with TBA and my art helps in ways people can not understand……I glad you do and are sharing with others the release that can be found in art. GOD Bless you……

    • Thanks, Tim! We all need to turn on the release valve sometimes, eh? 🙂 I dealt with anxiety and even mild postpartum depression about five years ago but being absorbed in a crafting project made a big difference. Now I try to craft any time I can feel my stress levels rising, as a preventative measure!

  • Thanks Tim. It’s important that art is part of our wellness program! Just like some are into exercise and stuff. I find when I’m working on art I’m less stressed.

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