It is estimated that stress effects 1 in 5 workers in the UK with over 105 million work days being lost to stress each year. Whilst work is one of the main causes of stress, other things such as relationships and money problems are also a big contributing factor. When you are feeling stressed it is tempting to pull away from external activities and hobbies but in actuality these things can be a huge combatant. Many people swear by a hot bath, a nature walk or hitting the gym in order to loosen up and relax. These things are great but today we are going to look at the positive effect of using art to combat stress and relieve anxiety.
Art to Communicate
Many people use art and design to communicate their feelings. Pictures painted can represent certain emotions and the process of getting these from the inside of us, out on to paper can provide a feeling of release and freedom. It is the same feeling as the poet would get when expressing his inner most passions through verse or the way musicians use songs as an outlet for their thoughts.
The Process of Art Making as a Focus
Many people say that the process of painting or making a piece of art work is just as important as the finished result. Drawing or painting requires a level of focus and concentration which for a time can take your mind away from stressful thoughts or situations. All the time artists report a feeling of ‘getting lost’ in their creations or loosing track of time due to becoming so engrossed in the process. Essentially this is a distraction technique that allows you time to clear your head, enjoy the ‘flow’ and rest from wearying stressful thoughts.
For a lot of people, art and design also provides a sense of worth. Having a finished painting, sculpture, card, piece of pottery or drawing fills you with a sense of achievement and is an active display of your valuable creativity. This boosts your self-esteem and in turn can help you achieve a sense of purpose outside of work.
Social activity, meeting with and talking to others, has always been known as a great way to combat stress and fortunately art is naturally quite a social thing. Whether you paint or design as part of a group or simply enjoy sharing your work through a blog or something similar, you will come into contact with likeminded people with whom you can talk and share your opinions.
5 Art Therapy Based Activities for the Beginner
If you are now convinced of the benefits of art and are willing to try something a little outside of the box to help tackle stress then give these activities a go:
1) Drawing Emotions and Learning How They Relate To Art
Take a sheet of paper some colouring pencils. Being to think about the use of colours and what they may symbolise and how they make you feel when you look at them. Think about the lines you use and whether or not they are sweeping, jagged, broken or sprawling and what different lines may represent. Have a go at the following:
-Choosing a suspicious colour
-Choosing a happy colour
-Choosing a colour that best represents jazz music
-Drawing an angry line
-Drawing a relaxed line
-Drawing a line that represents a person you know
2) Start an Art Journal
Purchase a small scrap book or journal and begin to draw images, write quotes, attach photos or just generally scribble down doodles and ideas that reflect how you feel.
Have a go at the following:
-Take your journal to a café and have a go at recording the taste, smell and atmosphere of the coffee shop.
-Pick an exciting or happy event in your life and depict it using only wax crayons in your journal.
-Go through an old magazine and cut out images that represent your current mood and stick them into your journal.
-Ask a friend to provide 3 words that they best think describe you and then draw them in your journal.
3) Finger Painting
You probably remember doing this in school but this kind of art is not just for kids. Grab a sheet of thick paper and make a row of finger prints (like you might record your prints at a police station). Grab a pen and turn these bright oval blobs in to as many shapes as you can. You could add legs and a nose to one and make it into a dog and so on. You will be surprised at how many you come up with and how much you enjoy yourself!
4) A Collage a Day
Think about the things you like (baking, animals, nature etc.) and cut out images that represent these things from newspaper and magazines. Stick them on to a piece of paper or into your journal. Choose one thing a day for the next week to try and do from your collage.
5) Spread the Love
Fold a piece of card in half to create a blank greeting card. Decorate the card with someone you love in mind. Write them a message and post it off to them.
Author Bio: Vikki works with http://www.stuartmorris.co.uk/, a textile design company in the UK. She is a keen artist herself and loves illustration and graphic design.