The Art Therapy: How Painting Can Relieve Stress
by Peter King
Stress is a part of everyday life and is a huge risk factor for heart disease. An artistic pursuit is a great way to relieve stress and anxiety, and in professional psychological practice, this is known as art therapy.
Art therapy has been practised since the 1940s to help those struggling with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and mood disorders. The expressive and cathartic value of art is widely acknowledged but you don’t have to be an expert to harness the healing power of art. Using elements of art therapy in your own day to day life can be an incredible way to decrease anxiety and improve your overall mental health.
Here are some amazing ways that a creative outlet can improve your life and equip you with new skills to take control of your own mental health.
Break the stress cycle by engaging in a new and exciting activity that has no attached expectations. Rather than dwelling on the problems that are plaguing you, why not distract yourself with something pleasurable and low pressure. It doesn’t matter if you create a perfect work of art, just have a play with colors and lines. If you have had a terrible day a work, rather than stewing over the issues of the day, put down your phone and pick up the paintbrush.
Focusing on the task at hand and giving all of your attention to the project you are working on is a great way to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness teaches you to focus on the task at hand rather than stressing about future problems. With mindfulness skills, you can create a little space and time for yourself in even the most stressful of situations.
Find Your Medium
There are many different forms of painting that you can try. Acrylic painting is probably the easiest to get started with, as the supplies such as acrylic paints and paint brushes are widely available and very affordable. However, if you are looking for a medium that is more forgiving then watercolour pencils allow you to draw a picture and then use a wet paintbrush to disperse the color from the pencil lines. If you are unsure, go to your local craft store or check out an art supplies store online and grab some supplies and have a play. Finding what medium allows you to practice stress-free artistic exploration will provide you with the most effective relief from anxiety and stress.
Use your art as a channel for expressing your feelings. You can make your expression explicit by attempting to paint a scene that calms you or upsets you, or take a more abstract route and use shapes and colors that appeal to you and your emotional state at that point in time. Being able to process and express your feelings is important when dealing with stress. Artistic expression can act as a pressure valve, allowing you to release the pent-up stress from a horrible day or an incredibly busy week.
Unlock your creative potential and enrich your life with an artistic hobby that can substantially reduce your stress levels. Playing with lines and colors is a great way to refocus your mind and find an oasis of calm amid the pressure of everyday life.
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