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4 Mental Health Benefits of Making Art + Being Creative

A graphic that reads "4 Mental Health Benefits of Making Art + Being Creative" above a stock photo of a person's hands painting a watercolor picture, with painting supplies on the table around them. We can only see their hands and the table from above.

Did you know that making art can be a great way to support your mental health? Art therapy is a type of therapy that views creating as therapeutic in and of itself. There are many ways to heal, and for some, healing through creating is a profound way to express what they can’t or don’t know how to say out loud. Being creative be a great way to support your mental health! 

Some therapists specialize in a kind of therapy called Art Therapy. Just like some therapists have additional training in EMDR or couples therapy, art therapists have training in art therapy on top of traditional therapy training.

Art therapy is a type of therapy that views creating as therapeutic in and of itself. There are many ways to heal, and for some, healing through creating is a profound way to express what they can’t or don’t know how to say out loud. 

Making art promotes well-being and can provide social connections, which as we’ve all learned in the past two years are incredibly important. There are even tons of ways to get crafty in your own home – so perfect for pandemic times. YouTube has literally millions of tutorials on every craft under the sun, from knitting to collage art to woodworking. There are social media groups of Facebook or subreddits with tips, resources, and support. Taking up a creative hobby can give you an opportunity to make new friends and connect with new people, which can be helpful for folks dealing with mental health issues like depression. 

Art is about making something. Using your imagination to create something can help you express thoughts or feelings that you don’t know how to articulate in other ways. What might take you a long time to express or process in traditional talk therapy could be explored through art therapy. The guidance of an art therapist can help you sort through the information and make connections or spot patterns, just like in talk therapy.

Art therapy allows for mental health support in a therapeutic setting, but you can also benefit from making art outside of the therapy room. Our lives are pretty busy these days and it’s not often that we can slow down and truly take a break. Creating art gives you a chance to use your brain and stay grounded in the present moment.

Here are a few ways to be creative to support your mental health to give you some ideas: 

  • Drawing or painting
  • Knitting or crochet
  • Needlework
  • Photography
  • Writing 
  • Doodling
  • Calligraphy
  • Graphic design
  • Coloring
  • Collaging 
  • Making pottery
  • Woodworking
  • Singing or playing music
  • Dancing
  • Interior design
  • Keeping an art journal

There are endless possibilities when it comes to art, which is the fun thing. There aren’t any rules, either, so feel free to explore what you’re called to and enjoy the process.

Creating art has a ton of mental health benefits in addition to being fun. Here are 4 mental health benefits of making art and being creative: 

Making art boosts your self-esteem

Creating something feels good, there’s no way around it! When you use your creativity to make something, you’re proving to yourself that you are capable. It doesn’t even have to turn out anywhere close to perfect – just the act of seeing something through and using your brain in a different way can help you make connections and process things. Making something is an accomplishment, and adding up accomplishments can be a big boost to your self-esteem. 

Being creative helps you get to know yourself better

It’s never a bad thing to get to know yourself on a deeper level. The better you understand who you are and what you need, the easier it is to ask for what you need. It’s easier to make decisions in alignment with your values because you understand what those values are. You can use your creativity to guide your self-exploration. 

Creating art helps you release your feelings

It’s hard to put words to what’s going on in our minds sometimes. This is especially true in times of distress, when it can be hard to think at all, let alone make sense of your thoughts. When you express yourself by making art, you are giving yourself more information to use when you look for patterns and connections. In therapy, making connections and spotting patterns is invaluable. Often, the patterns we’re stuck in cause distress, but it can be hard to see where things come from. That’s why the guidance of an expert like an art therapist can help support you in making connections and interrupting old patterns that no longer work for you. 

Making art is relaxing

A good, reliable way to relieve stress and relax is worth its weight in gold these days. Creating art is a way to give yourself a break from what’s stressing you out. Making something requires you to use your brain in a creative way, and it also can help keep you grounded in the present moment. You can focus on what you’re doing with your hands, textures, and smells to stay mindful and present. Making art also gives you something to do instead of doomscrolling or zoning out in front of the TV. You may find that being creative helps you relax in a new way!

If you’re interested in working with an art therapist or exploring your mental health through creativity, get in touch with our office today. 

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