The power of art is only just starting to be recognised for its full possible impact on our mental wellbeing and stress management. Is art the key to managing stress?
There’s a growing body of evidence pointing to the fact that being able to create artistically acts as a powerful form of stress relief.
It encourages our brains to think more creatively and problem-solve and actually has a physically measurable impact on the neurons.
But do you have to be born an artist to harness this power in your everyday life?
Can Art Help Non-Artists?
Many of us are conditioned to think of artists as innately talented – a gift they are born with which is only available to a few and can’t be learned.
But that is totally a misconception – some individuals may have more innate talent, but like anything, your skill at art can be improved through studying and applying different techniques.
Similarly, we are raised to think of ‘proper’ art as painting or sculpture, when actually there are many possible mediums, including digital art and collaging, which may feel more intuitive and accessible to you.
These assumptions need to be challenged, because many people simply write off the relevance of art to their own lives because of these factors, assuming it can’t be for them and therefore missing out on its potential to help with their mental wellbeing.
Similarly, you don’t have to work with an art therapist to derive therapeutic benefit from what you create. It’s more about listening to your desires for self-expression and finding a channel where you can create fluidly, without worrying about the judgement of others.
How Does Art Relieve Our Stress?
It’s true that we seem more stressed than ever in our hyper-busy daily lives, and making art accessible could be one solution that gives us an outlet.
When we paint, draw, sculpt or do photography, our brains have no choice but to focus on the task at hand.
This leads to what is often called a ‘flow state’, where we become entirely caught up in the moment, and the random chatter of our brains, including all the negative, worrisome or self-defeating thoughts are switched off.
This is also the goal of mindfulness, so combining creative work with a mindfulness app can yield some great results for those struggling with anxiety.
Inducing a meditative-like state reduces some of the 60,000 thoughts the average person has during the course of a day.
Many people have found channels like adult colouring books can make them feel dramatically calmer, or you can teach yourself how to start painting on a mac here: https://setapp.com/how-to/how-to-start-painting-on-mac.
How Does Art Boost Our Self-Esteem?
Creating something, however small, can release a powerful hit of the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine – often referred to as the ‘motivation molecule’.
This chemical can kick-start our feeling of accomplishment, focus and drive, an effect which then spills over into other areas of our lives.
The good news is that you don’t have to be producing fine art to reap the benefits of this molecule – hobbies such as drawing, sewing or knitting can have the same effect.
Dopamine also helps to ward of depression and protect the brain from the effects of aging – so what better excuse to get crafty?