Anyone who is a passionate artist knows that painting and drawing can totally consume your mind, taking you to another place and time. While creating artistic works is a relaxing hobby for some, for others it is a way to put the stresses and problems in a too-busy world behind. Still others find that putting their talents to work or even learning a new skill such as oil painting can alleviate stress or physical/emotional pain, while it is also thought by many to be a great alternative treatment for ADHD and other disorders.
Who would have ever thought that something so fun, engaging – and sometimes challenging – could be so healing in so many ways?
Kids are great at expressing their feelings through art, but adults seem to lose that avenue of expression as adults. Here are a few ways that painting, sketching, and other forms of art can benefit both body and mind:
When you are stressed or anxious, art can provide a distraction, taking your mind at least temporarily off of the things that are making you feel stressed. This means a clearer mind later, so that you are ready to face the things that are making you stressed. For many artists, complete submersion in their work offers the benefits of meditation.
Calm the Brain
Children and adults with ADHD or autism have said that art therapy helps to ‘calm the brain.’ This is amazing considering that many with these conditions are easily distracted, impulsive, and often have problems with anxiety. Because children with various learning disabilities often suffer from low self-esteem as well, art in its various forms can instill confidence, improve behavior, and help with emotional problems. Completing a painting or drawing does a lot of things at once, including decreasing impulsive behavior, increasing levels of serotonin in the brain, and promoting focus.
Art is a Healthy Outlet
For physical or emotional pain or even tragedy, art works miracles. Painting or drawing is considered a sort of refuge and salvation for some, who find that expressing their sadness, grief, or other emotional feelings through art can offer great relief. Creating a work of art can even produce an emotional high, without resorting to medications or dangerous drugs. Art is a great outlet for releasing pain and feelings of depression, helping the artist feel good about him or herself. The word ‘tranquil’ is perfect for describing how many artists feel when plunging themselves into their work. Sometimes, taking your mind to a different place takes it off of physical pain or emotional suffering.
The De-Stressing Power of Art
Studies actually show that 45 minutes of creative activity lessens stress and Cortisol in the body, and this is regardless of artistic experience or talent! Results of the benefit of art therapy were published in the Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, titled “Reduction of Cortisol Levels and Participants’ Responses Following Art Making. Cortisol is a hormone your body releases when you’re under stress.
Whether art is a passion or simply a hobby, it can offer the artist a feeling of a more balanced life. Art is a form of self care, so take care of yourself – and hopefully enjoy something beautiful that you have the satisfaction of knowing you created yourself when it’s all done.
For more reading on art therapy, the following book, Art Heals: How Creativity Cures the Soul is recommended.
“If you believe that art has the power to heal, you need to read this book. If you use art as a tool with any population for personal expression, healing or self-growth, you need to read this book. The bottom line is that art does heal. Creativity does move us forward on our personal journeys towards wholeness, and this book offers powerful recognition of these indisputable facts!”