Art Therapy: My Way of Learning to Cope with Stress.

Sorry for the long absence from blogging. That’s because I’ve been struggling with stress lately (mostly from work) and I’ve been trying to find ways to cope.

Stress is something many people face, yet not many know how to cope with it. I know positive stress is good for us as it encourages us to think of ways to do better and improve ourselves. It’s the negative stress that I’m worried about as it is difficult to live with. If it gets out of hand, I’d better find ways to deal with it. Stress-relief medication and anti-stress treatment can help but I think it’s best if I looked for natural ways first, before heading towards professional science. Also, all these medication and treatment can be quite expensive.

So what I’ve been doing lately is painting. Reading has helped me a great deal too but I felt I needed more than just a book to help me out here. Since my job has gotten more demanding with looming deadlines and unmet KPIs. I’ve crumpled more than once at my job and understandably, my manager is not too pleased about it.

Although, I’ve only started my painting last Friday. I ordered a set of 15 watercolours and 3 aquash water paintbrushes by Pentel early last week. And it arrived in time for me to enjoy my second long weekend. I’m not a professional artist nor have I taken any classes but here’s what you need to know — you don’t need to be an artist by profession or to have talent for this. All you need to know is that painting CAN help you deal with stress and for many reasons as well. So I’ve taken to creating a simple infographic on how art can help you relieve your stress and live better:

Art vs. Stress

Above are just some of the reasons that I read and researched all day. One of the reasons why I decided to take up painting is because of the distraction that it provides. It takes my mind off the stuff that’s stressing me out even if it’s for a few minutes. After that, I’ll have a clearer mind to tackle my problems with, much better than before.

But there are also other advantages of creating art which I will share with you more below:

Emotional Relief

Art is understood to help you describe your feelings better. Even if it’s in the back of your mind, art is your way of processing these related emotions and help to reduce some of the stress you’re carrying.

Repressed emotions can blind us to stressful situations or encourage us to internalize strain. When it comes to relieving your emotions, visual art allows you to express the emotions that may be too difficult to put into words. For example, creating a gestural painting by working with rhythmic brushwork is effective in releasing pent-up emotions.

Creative Thinking

With art, your problem-solving skills are enhanced and you will start thinking creatively to come up with your own unique solutions. Unlike math, there is no one correct answer in art as it boosts your out-of-the-box thinking, and in turn, stimulates your brain to grow new neurons.

Self-Esteem and Accomplishment

If you remember clearly, your parents may have stuck your artwork on the refrigerator or hung it up on the walls in your home for guests to see. This actually serves to boost your self-esteem.

Well, my parents did the same for me and you know what? My parents’ action of doing so instilled that same feeling in me, making me feel good about the paintings I created! And it made me want to make some more.

Creating art increases the “feel-good” neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is known as the “motivation molecule” which boosts drive, focus and concentration. It helps you plan ahead and resist impulses so you can achieve your goals and accomplish what you set out to do. It also stimulates the creation of new neurons (as mentioned in the Creative Thinking point above) and prepares your brain for learning.

So this is why I say that art is for everyone. Of course if you have a health concern, then seeing an art therapist would be your best bet. Otherwise, painting and the various forms of art is therapeutic and I’d greatly encourage you to try it out!

Like Albert Einstein once said,

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.”

So remember, it’s not about the end product. It’s about the creative journey that you’re taking on your road to recovery. It’s the therapeutic sensation that would help you deal with and live with the stress that life doles out to us on a daily basis.

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