Creating Art to Relieve Stress

July 08, 2019 3 min read
Creating Art to Relieve Stress

We joke about the stress in our lives, but stress is a major health issue around the world.  Common stressors like traffic, workplace demands, and even what to make for dinner after a busy day all create stress.  Stress is also created by unresolved past difficulties that still trouble us.  Repeated and ongoing stress affects our mental and physical health.

Creating art helps decrease stress and enables you to adjust better to stressors in your life.  Art provides a positive way to process stress and manage both current and past emotions associated with stressful events. Read more to learn the benefits of creating art, simple art projects to do, and the benefits of professional art therapy.  

Why Art?
Unlike children, who usually enjoy drawing and coloring, adults often don’t create art because they’ve convinced themselves they are not good artists.  They may feel art is best left to professionals or people with great talent, and miss the benefits creating art provides.  However, studies show that it’s the act of creating art, not the end product, that provides stress relief.  The benefits aren’t tied to how professional a project looks.  

Focusing on an art project can distract you from stressful worries.  Giving your conscious mind a break from stressful thoughts lets your brain and body rest.  When you do think about your stressors again, your mind is calmer and better prepared to deal with them.  

People who participate in creative expression through art often talk about being “in the zone.” When you’re completely engaged in creating art, your mind enters a meditation-like state, allowing your thoughts to flow and releasing tension and stress in your body.  Being in the zone creates a sense of well-being and helps you focus on your strengths instead of your stress.  

Sometimes adults feel that creating art isn’t a useful way to spend their time.  But taking the time to create art is a form of self-care and lowers stress levels.  Recognizing your self-worth is part of the foundation of relieving stress.  Making time to create art builds your connection with yourself.

Art Projects for Stress Relief
Adults coloring books have become very popular because they provide a simple, natural outlet for creating expression.  Focusing on grouping colors within a pattern makes a good distraction.  Twenty minutes a day of coloring or drawing guides your mind to the present moment and re-focuses it away from stress.

Drawing, sketching, or painting doesn’t have to be done by professions.  Try creating an art journal.  You can create pictures that reflect your emotions, allowing you to process the stress.  Specific ideas for your art journal include your dreams, drawings of what makes you grateful, or sketches of things you feel have beauty.  The quality of the drawings isn’t the goal.  Expressing your emotions and focusing on what brings you joy are the reasons for creating an art journal or a painting.

Drawing or coloring a mandala has many benefits.  A mandala is a circle drawing, intricately filled with colors and shapes.  Creating your own mandala allows you to use symbols to represent life events, without having to concentrate on the events themselves. It’s a way to process your story without reliving painful situations.  Using positive symbols becomes an affirmation of life.  Coloring a pre-made mandala also has benefits.  Bringing together colors you like into a pattern helps you focus, distracts from worry, and relieves stress.

Art Therapy
By itself, creating art is a great stress reliever. Working with an art therapist helps you focus on changing your reaction to stress.  Art therapists help you diffuse and process stress through your art. Art therapists are trained to help people use art as a way to manage stress.  Art therapy is reported to help manage not only stress but also anxiety and depression.  People who have PTSD often experience fewer symptoms when they engage in art therapy.

Take a deep breath, grab a sheet of paper, find your favorite pencil, brushes, and colors, and create some art!  Let your mind and body rest and be better prepared to deal with stress.