Research has shown creating art relieves stress. People who do some form of art as a hobby can tell you this without conducting research or reading studies done by others. I don't know if research has been done on artists and craftspeople who produce art as their livelihood. Do they find it as useful for relieving stress or does the pressure of needing to make money create stress? If so does that stress outweigh the benefits or does it depend on the individual situation?
What activities constitute 'art'? Some people just think of drawing and painting when they hear the term 'art'. When talking about reducing stress, 'creating art' can take many forms including-
sketching (lead pencil, pastel, charcoal etc)
creating cartoons and caricatures
painting (oil, acrylic, watercolour, resin and combinations)
pottery (hand building or using a pottery wheel)
using recycled materials to create something
Artist at work Image courtesy of Pixabay
But I was no good at art at school Simply creating something is more important than the end product. The process of messing around with whatever material appeals to you is what reduces stress. Squeezing clay through your fingers or playing around with your kids' finger paints can be as relaxing as painting a master piece, maybe more so because you aren't concerned with technique or the outcome.
How can creating art reduce stress? When a person becomes absorbed by the activity of making any form of art they get in a state often referred to as 'flow'. This can be almost like a meditation state. They are distracted from their worries and the annoyances of daily life.
Creating art allows a person to express emotions they can't put into words, if they want to use art as a form of therapy.
For some, time devoted to their art is 'me time'. They may have a studio or a corner somewhere in the house where they go to do their art. While they are alone they get some 'space' which helps them relax.
Others enjoy going to art classes to be with like minded people. They improve their skills, get feedback from others and enjoy the social aspect of the class.
Paintings do not have to be realistic. Image courtesy of Pixabay
Some belong to a cooperative, gallery or other group where they can sell their art. They get to spend time with artists who produce all types of art. They may volunteer their time during the hours the gallery or cooperative is open. Volunteering has many health benefits.
'Me time', being social and volunteering all have health benefits and often reduce stress levels.
Ways to get some art into your life Some enjoy doing a class and others would prefer to teach themselves or create their own individual form of self expression. There are no right and no wrong ways to get involved in an artistic pursuit.
Ways of getting into art include-
keeping an art journal where you record thoughts, experiences and emotions in sketches, photos, water colour painting, pastel or whatever in a spiral back book or loose leaf format
colouring in books. There are so many to choose from these days.
art class. If you are unsure what type of art you want to do look around for a 'sampler' class where different forms are explored. WEA in Adelaide runs this type of class.
watching You Tube tutorials for ideas
reading books or watching instructional DVDs
making up your own rules and being innovative in your choice of materials
If you are interested in trying art as a way of dealing with issues in your life you could try an art therapy course. Some of these courses include music and dance as well as visual arts.
Creating art is a constructive way to reduce stress and it's fun.