Mental health issues affect nearly half the global population. For many, professional mental health care is inaccessible. Even for Americans with health insurance, most plans do not cover mental health services. With the odds against so many of us, it’s important that we do what we can with what we have.
Utilizing the arts as a healing method is an effective practice that anyone can do. After reading this article, you’ll understand how practicing art can be therapeutic and how you can incorporate it into your life.
Let that stress GO
Art can really improve your mental health. Creating art is a great way to relieve stress.
When you’re creating art, your brain gets into a mental “flow” aka “the zone”. When you’re in the zone, you become entirely focused on the task at hand and in return, your mind is calm and relaxed. Your brain isn’t able to focus on your worries while absorbed in the details of the masterpiece you’re making.
The next time you find yourself overwhelmed with stress, instead of letting your worries take over, consider painting, drawing, or even coloring and give yourself permission to enter a more positive and relaxed headspace.
While creating art can help you relieve stress, it also gives you the ability to express yourself. Sometimes, talking to others about the things you’re going through can be scary and even embarrassing. While being transparent with people you trust is an important aspect of healing, if you’re not ready to take that step yet, there are still ways to get those burdens off your chest.
As an artist, I find it easier to convey how I feel through pictures instead of words. (That’s why I’m a painter, not a poet!) Creating work based on how you feel in a given moment can give you clarity and understanding on the things you’re going through. It can be relieving to get intense emotions off your chest and onto paper, a canvas, or whatever medium you choose to express yourself on.
When you feel consumed by emotions you may not understand, try drawing what those emotions look and feel like to you. Allow yourself to create whatever your heart drives you to do and get in that zone while doing it.
Use your imagination!
It’s probably not that hard to believe, but making art is a great method for encouraging creative thinking skills and activating your imagination.
Since art has no wrong answers, the artist is encouraged to find their own solution to things and be more open to different ways of thinking. These traits can be carried into day to day life and have a positive effect on your mental. When you trap yourself into one dimensional thinking, a lot of obstacles seem impossible to overcome. When you experiment with different ways of thinking and understanding, however, finding a solution often feels much easier.
Brainstorm 3 of the most random words you can think of and challenge yourself to create a piece of art that brings them all together. Don't think about what's "right" or "wrong", let your intuition guide you and enjoy the process!
Remember, you're the sh*t!
Creating art is a great way to boost self esteem, too! When you create something you are truly proud of, dopamine is produced in the body. Dopamine is a hormone responsible for making people feel good. It also increases drive and improves concentration. Repeating this process of creating and feeling accomplished creates pathways in the brain that prevent depression and improve overall well being. (I bet you didn’t know art was capable of doing all this, huh?)
Taking care of your mental health is just as important as maintaining your physical health. As someone who is currently on my own journey of learning about what mental health is and how to improve it myself, I can say with confidence that taking care of your mind will change your life.
If you tried any of these methods or have tips of your own, leave a comment below! You may help someone else on their journey to better mental health :)