Research has shown that making art has many healing and mental health benefits. Today, art therapists provide art therapy to individuals to manage things like anxiety, depression, and PTSD1. Recent studies have found that viewing and creating visual art can improve responses to stress and alleviate both clinical anxiety disorders and day-to-day anxiousness2. But even if you’re not interested in art therapy, the simple act of making art can also be very beneficial and enjoyable. Activities like painting, making pottery, and drawing can be relaxing and relieve stress. Even things like adult colouring books, which have grown in popularity in recent years, can be extremely helpful for managing stress.
There are many things I’ve heard from people who think they’re unfit to get involved with art: that they aren’t gifted artistically; they aren’t creative; or they just don’t see the point. But I fail to see the validity in any of these statements, because you don’t have to be gifted or talented to begin making art (all artists had to start somewhere!), and the benefits of making art can help anyone no matter who you are. It is the process of making art, not the results of what you’re making, that provide the benefits to your wellbeing.
A key moment in my life that led me to feel so passionately about this topic happened during the fall of 2020. I was taking an Art Education course online that explored artistic inquiry and the question of: what does art do? For the final project, I created several paintings using acrylic paint, starting with little to no plan, just my paintbrush and the canvas. This project ended up being especially valuable to me at this time, as the unexpected changes in my life during that first year of the pandemic put me in an extremely vulnerable place, and my mental health was suffering more than it had in years. I felt lost, confused, angry with the world, but most of all I felt alone. The emotions and questions this art making provoked allowed me to process a lot of these confusing feelings in a way I had never experienced before. In these moments, I realized art provided a meditative and therapeutic outlet for me that I was not able to encounter through other means. I was able to transform the sadness and emptiness I was feeling into something beautiful that helped me learn about myself and how I was doing. In this sense, art allows us to explore ourselves in a way that other mediums do not, and I think that is a substantial and beautiful thing.
Whether you deal with anxiety and depression, or you just want to give making art a try, there really are no downsides to exploring your artistic side. So, if you’ve been thinking about getting involved with some art classes, or simply wanted to start drawing more, this is your sign to do it!
P.S. Don’t forget to have fun!!
- Alban, P. (2022, January 24).The mental health benefits of Art Are for Everyone. Be Brain Fit. Retrieved February 10, 2022, from https://bebrainfit.com/benefits-art/
- Beerse, M. E., Van Lith, T., Pickett, S. M., & Stanwood, G. D. (2019). Biobehavioral Utility of mindfulness-based art therapy: Neurobiological underpinnings and mental health impacts. Experimental Biology and Medicine, 245 (2), 122–130. https://doi.org/10.1177/1535370219883634
The views expressed in this blog are my own, and do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of the University of Victoria. I monitor posts and comments to ensure all content complies with the University of Victoria Guidelines on Blogging.