I happen to be an art lover who also likes to dabble in art making. Give me an afternoon in a museum and I’m in heaven! There’s also nothing like a pencil or paint brush in my hand to get my creative juices flowing. I realize not everyone is like this; lots of people (maybe even my own husband and kids) consider any time in an art museum as pure punishment, and most people think if they don’t have natural artistic talent they might as well not even bother trying. If you’re not into art, or don’t consider yourself an artist, don’t click away yet! You don’t have to spend time in a museum, or have the ability to create museum quality artwork, to benefit from the stress-reducing advantages of art-making.
All of us can use less stress and anxiety in our lives, and making art is a beautiful and satisfying way to make that happen. And when I say making art I’m not talking about masterpieces. Just take whatever art form you enjoy- drawing, painting, knitting, sculpting, photography, baking, pottery all count, by the way- and go with it. You might end up with something impressive and wonderful, but that’s not the point. The point is to be engaged in a creative activity- here are some reasons art can reduce stress:
1. It’s distracting:
When you’re busy making art you need to focus on that, which is a fabulous distraction from the stresses and responsibilities of regular life. So in a sense making art is a nice break from the usual.
2. It’s relaxing:
The repetitive motion you use in making art, as well as the syncing of your hand and eye bring on a relaxation response, which is the opposite of the “fight or flight” response we feel when we’re stressed.
3. It’s a hobby:
Having hobbies is important for emotional health for many reasons. Being involved in a hobby provides a good balance in a busy life.
4. It increases dopamine:
Dopamine is a “feel good” neurotransmitter, which means it helps you feel happy and calm.
5. It gives you a sense of accomplishment:
Learning something new, or enjoying a finished project makes you feel good about yourself.
6. It stimulates communication between parts of your brain:
When you make art you’re using the thinking, sensory, and active parts of your brain all at once, which makes you better able to resist stress.
7. It’s an emotional release:
It can be hard to express your feelings in words, and sometimes it’s just smarter not to! Creative expression allows you to get your feelings out- feelings you may not even be aware of until you see them on paper, or in some other form.
8. It prevents worrying:
Making art requires using multiple senses all at once. This helps keep you present and prevents you from worrying.
9. You’re in charge:
There are no rules when it comes to art and that’s extremely freeing. Also, you’re the boss- you’re not doing it to satisfy someone else, or to meet someone else’s needs or demands. Doing something just for you relieves you from the stress of obligation.
What kind of art-making relaxes you? Share with us on Facebook and Twitter!