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Art Therapy: Relieve Stress By Being Creative

Do-It-Yourself Art Therapy

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Updated April 23, 2014

Art Therapy: Relieve Stress By Being Creative

"Art Therapy" Can Help You Maintain Inner Peace ©iStockphoto.com

While art therapy is its own field, you can use the benefits of art to express your creative side and drawing skills to reduce stress and get in touch with your feelings. I think most of us knew this instinctively as kids: virtually all of us know the joys of sculpting something (with play-dough), painting something (with fingers), or drawing (with crayons and other materiels). However, other than making random doodles in the margins of a page while you’re on killing time, if you’re like most adults, you don’t express yourself with art like you did as a kid.

Benefits of Art:
One of the reasons that clinical art therapy is effective is that the act of drawing and creating art can help you relieve stress in several ways. Here are some ways that creating art can alleviate stress:

  • Distraction: Drawing and art can take your mind off of what’s stressing you, at least for a few minutes. And when you’re finished being engrossed in your sketches, you should have a clearer head with which to tackle your problems again.

  • Flow: There’s a certain quality of being called “flow”, that experts say is very beneficial for us. This refers to a state of being completely engaged in something to the point of being in a near meditative state. It carries many of the benefits of meditation, leaving you much less stressed when you’re done. You can experience ‘flow’ when you’re doing creative activities like writing, and even gardening. You can also get it from drawing.

  • Self Care: Just the act of having a hobby can make you feel more balanced in your lifestyle. Sometimes with all of life’s responsibilities, we forget that we need and deserve ‘down time’ and self care. Taking even a few minutes on a regular basis to devote to a hobby can give you more of what you need in this area. And, with drawing, you have the additional benefit of being left with something beautiful (or at least interesting) to show for it!

Do-It-Yourself Art Therapy for Stress Relief
One of my favorite ways to use drawing for stress relief is to maintain a sketch diary. Keeping a sketchbook can be a form of journaling, and it can be cathartic, creative, and stress relieving. You can use a journal for personal art therapy and stress management in the following ways:
  • Sketch pictures that describe your feelings related to things in your life that are causing you stress currently. If it’s in the back of your mind anyway, this could be a way of processing your related emotions, reducing some of the stress they carry.

  • Sketch abstract pictures that express feelings related to past stressful experiences, as a way of processing your emotions and healing.

  • Keep a ‘Dream Sketch Diary’, and sketch scenes from dreams you’d like to remember or better understand.

  • Keep a sketch diary of what you think is beautiful in life. Draw the faces of those you love, places that bring you peace, or other pieces of beauty. The process of sketching can be a great stress reliever, and revisiting your creations can also bring you some peace in the future.

Additional Art Resources:
If you’re interested in trying out a regular drawing practice, there’s a great site on the About network devoted to drawing and sketching, for people of all levels, including beginners. You can sign up for classes and a regular newsletter (just like with you can sign up for free stress management classes and a free weekly newsletteron this site!), and get more tips on keeping a sketch diary. Have fun!

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