Art to Relieve Stress

Fantastic news for us readers and creators at Bohemian’s Minds! Scientific research confirms and echoes human experience promotes thousands of strategies to support us to feel more empowered when inevitably encountering stress. And you guessed it – we most certainly can make art to relieve stress!

In this wild ride of life, we’re thrust into the cosmos. We’re unarguably designed to undergo and, at best, manage stress in our day-to-day lives. Being so, many teachings on stress focus most of all on the latter. Answering poignant questions about how we can best manage daily, acute, and chronic stress. So why not look to art as a self-care and help strategy to release tension, return to the present, slip into the flow, and provide a safe container for cathartic release and exploration?

Read on to dig into the value of and explore ways to use art to relieve stress.

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Why Do We Stress?

As part of the competitive web of life on our precious planet, we must concern ourselves with survival amidst an ever-changing environment. Moreover, humans are affected by and require a sense of belonging in social groups. To discover a personal and greater purpose. To achieve and leave a legacy with those we cherish in our seemingly brief lives. Needless to say – life is not a breeze!

Though stress can most certainly be positive, creativity serves as a great source of energy transfer and emotional process. For instance, as you strain yourself in an ambitious workout and receive a rush of endorphins, mood-boosters, supporting metabolism. Many of us feel the stress built by the mere thought of ‘being creative’ in the first place! And I say, let that be a Motivator – not an Inhibitor! Art is rewarding – and, as proven, incredible for stress relief.

The Art of Surrender

I’ve noticed a theme sewn throughout stress relief discourse both in research and my personal self-help practice. It appears true that allowing oneself to let go of control is of utmost value. Unsurprisingly, art is a fabulous activity to flex these muscles. Permit yourself to surrender to the present moment. To the circumstances of your environment, the materials, abilities, and opportunities you have right in front of you. And stress subsides. Suddenly stress melts away, and fickle become concerned about your past and future.

Stress Relief with Art Therapy

One of the most common draws to art therapy is stress relief. Art Therapy spawned out of the mid-20th century as a creative resource for supporting mental health. The American Art Therapy Association Journal discovered that only 45 minutes of creative activity could reduce stress, regardless of artistic talent or training. The best part? What and How you create aren’t the questions that matter most! Indeed, what constitutes ‘art’ is, in fact, boundless. And because of this limitlessness, fears of inadequacy should fall wayward! It is a particular part of who we are to explore and discover what sparks that light within us. You needn’t become a master in any style or method to relieve stress through art!

Curious whether art therapy could suit you as a career path? I recommend this great site by Thirsty For Art, and their trendy Instagram account, to discover different avenues of art therapy and prospects!

Engaging our imagination and creativity serves us on a cathartic and energetic level. Studies in Art Therapy, which aims to support individuals to relax into themselves in the present and support emotional processing, have shown that dopamine rises significantly just moments after beginning a creative outlet. Check out this infographic reporting some of the physiological, cognitive, and emotional benefits of creating art.

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Art Therapy Stress Benefits
Source: Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff

Stress Relieving Creative Resources

One of the most popular and accessible resources within the self-help/art therapy industry is Adult Colouring Books. It’s been a gift to witness the effect of these simple exercises in my work with the elderly. I notice in all of us a near-effortless ‘slip’ into the present – to the non-judging, here-and-now. Suddenly, thoughts or concerns of past and future become obsolete when we set aside this playtential time to colour mandalas or simple designs. What relief and ease! Look to a dollar and local bookstores (shout out to a local favourite, Banyen Books), as well as Michael’s Craft Supplies for fantastic selections.

Cute, portable sized mandala-style colouring book I’ve enjoyed by many camping firesides. Available here.

An Abstract Adult Colouring Book I’ve loved myself, as well as in my mental health classes with clients. Available here.
F*ck Off, I'm Coloring!
A Personal Favourite (NSFW – but hilariously effective relief) Available here.

Another resource for empowering art creation in your day-to-day is by acquiring a nothingbook! Our very own Marek Kovar shared this with me in my beginnings with Bohemian’s Minds, and it has Changed my creative LIFE! I carry it with me nearly everywhere I go. With a pen/pencil and my nothingbook on hand, I can jot down any inspiration, curiosity, or doodle to get my creativity flowing. During times of stress? The first place I turn to.

Have you ever tried drawing/painting/creating your dreams? I keep a dream journal, and when especially during times of stress in my day/week/month, set aside some playtential time to put paint or pen to paper and see my dreams.

About the author:

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I am passionate about making the best of life through cherishing relationships, exploring worldly experiences, and cultivating a creative lifestyle of art, music, dance, and fitness. I am a self-taught painter, inspired by the sublimity of nature, consciousness, love and universal transcendence that binds all of humanity and nature, together.

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