July 25, 2024


Art Shines Through

3 Ways Art Benefits Mental Health

3 Ways Art Benefits Mental Health

The Effects of Stress

We all face a lot of stress nowadays, whether it be due to world events, the pandemic, or events in our own lives. This stress causes real physical and emotional harm to us if we don’t take steps to mitigate it as well as we can.

In response to stress, we have urges to fight, take flight, or freeze. While fight and flight get a lot of press, the freeze response is so prevalent and damaging. When we freeze in response to stress, we feel exhausted and we want to basically hibernate until the stress storm passes. We feel numb—and we pursue this numbness through social media, binging food or television, shopping, or drinking. 

If you’ve been engaging in this type of behavior in response to stress, don’t feel ashamed: this is a totally normal stress response! But it doesn’t really provide the kind of relief and support that we need in the face of stress. You know one thing that does provide real relief? Art.

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Art has been proven as an extremely valuable and effective tool to improve your mental health. It engages your mind as well as your senses, creating a cascade of healthy brain chemicals and positive feelings. When I witnessed my mother suffer a long decline due to Alzheimer’s Disease, artmaking was a critical bulwark for my mental health, keeping my despair and depression at bay.

Whether you already have a consistent painting practice or you’ve simply dabbled in this form of creative expression, now is the perfect time to pick up a paintbrush! Here are three ways that making art can benefit your psychological well being:

  1. Artmaking Lowers Stress Hormones

Creating a piece of art legitimately lowers your overall stress levels from a physiological standpoint, which simply makes you feel better! Painting provides a distraction that gives your brain a much-needed break from its typical thought patterns. Instead of looping anxious or stressful thoughts, you’re focusing on something else. This gives your mind the opportunity to reset—a brain rinse, if you will.

A study by Drexel University found that “whether you’re Van Gogh or a stick figure sketcher, making art can significantly reduce stress-related hormones in your body.” And the study found that everyone seems to benefit equally, regardless of their level of previous experience in the arts!

2. Art Boosts Self-esteem

No doubt about it, art boosts self-esteem and offers a sense of accomplishment. You don’t have to create a masterpiece to feel proud and productive, and it doesn’t matter what your medium is! Creating anything—whether a painting, a sketch, or a sculpture—fosters a feeling of self-love.

3. Art Encourages Brain Activity

Whenever you engage in a new or challenging activity, your brain begins bridging connections between different neurons. While you’re working on your art, your brain is stimulating connections between all different parts of the brain! A healthy, active brain is a happy brain.

Take Care of Your Mind by Creating Art

The best thing that we can do for ourselves in the face of our stressful lives is to take care of our body and brains, and art is an amazing way to do this. If you don’t know where to start, I’m offering my signature 6-week abstract painting course next month. Basic to Brilliant will engage and stimulate your mind while taking your abstract acrylic art on the journey of a lifetime! Enrollment for Basic to Brilliant opens on September 28th. You can enroll here.

Be well and happy painting!

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