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  • Writer's pictureRMTC Team

Getting Creative: The Healing Power of Art

Here at RMTC we are big fans of supplementing traditional therapy methods with other forms of self-care. While traditional therapy methods are undoubtedly valuable, there exists a powerful tool that often goes overlooked: art. 

 

Making art can help us harness the creative process to improve and enhance our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. In this blog post, we'll explore the myriad benefits of making art for mental health and why incorporating creative practices into your self-care routine can lead to profound positive changes. 

 

From painting and drawing to sculpting and collage-making, engaging in artistic activities provides a therapeutic outlet for processing emotions, reducing stress, and fostering self-discovery. Whether you're a seasoned artist or simply enjoy doodling in your spare time, the act of creation holds transformative potential for nurturing mental resilience and promoting overall wellness. 

 

Mental Health Benefits to Making Art  

 

  1. Stress Reduction 

 

Studies have shown that even forty-five minutes in an art studio can help reduce our cortisol levels, the hormone that is responsible for helping our body respond to stress. By engaging in creative activities, regardless of our experience levels as artists, we can gain the therapeutic benefit of lowered stress. Art can also help us to release other negative emotions like grief, sadness, loneliness, or anger. By releasing these feelings and working through them, art can help us to foster a more positive self-perception. 

 

  1. Self-Expression and Self-Exploration  

 

Art is one the best tools for self-expression. Making art can help us explore aspects of ourselves and our relationships that we might otherwise have left unexplored. Art is forgiving and you don’t need to be a self-proclaimed artist to reflect on what makes you, well… you. Art can serve as a form of emotional release, allowing us to channel our feelings into our creative work. Keeping an art journal can be a fun way to explore your emotions visually and/or in writing.  


An art journal
An art journal

  1. Mindfulness and Relaxation 

 

Engaging in activities like painting, knitting, and embroidery can help us to unwind and relax. By focusing on the art we are making, we can practice mindfulness. When we are focused what colours we are choosing for a painting or on how many stitches we need to knit in a row we allow ourselves to be present in that moment, rather than letting our minds wander. Art makes for a great distraction and is a healthy coping technique for many.  

 

  1. Boosting Self-Esteem  

 

Creating something new can help boost our self-esteem, especially when other things in life feel hard. Making an art piece we are proud of can help provide us with a sense of accomplishment, and when others appreciate your art, it can be incredibly affirming. Positive feedback from friends, family, or even strangers can validate our skills and efforts, reinforcing a positive self-image. Engaging in artistic pursuits often involves experimentation and learning new techniques. As we improve our skills and expand our creative horizons, we develop a sense of mastery and competence, which can enhance self-esteem. 

 

  1. Process Difficult Emotions  

 

Sometimes when we experience traumatic events or are simply going through a tough time in our lives, it can be hard to verbally express how we are feeling. Engaging in creative pursuits like keeping an art-journal or a sketchbook can help us to process our emotions visually when other forms of expression and processing may be inaccessible.  

 

  1. Increase your Brain Connectivity  

 

The process of creating art requires the brain to adapt and reorganize neural pathways. This leads to neuroplastic changes, where the brain forms new connections or strengthens existing ones in response to learning and experience. Because art requires us to engage in all our senses, as well as our hand-eye co-ordination it can be a great tool for increasing our brain strength and connectivity.  

 

  1. Increase Physical Activity  

 

Many art mediums require bodily movement. Sculpting, pottery, and rug-tufting are a few mediums that get you up and moving. Other forms of artistic expression like dance and performance art are all about moving the body!  


Ballerina

  1. Improve your Fine Motor Skills 

 

Artistic activities often require precise movements and control of tools such as brushes, pencils, or sculpting tools. Practicing these movements can improve hand-eye coordination and fine motor control over time. Artistic activities often involve understanding and manipulating spatial relationships, such as proportions, perspective, and symmetry. Practicing these skills enhances spatial awareness and the ability to accurately perceive and represent objects in two or three dimensions. For example, knitting, cross-stitching, embroidery, and other fiber arts are perfect for those looking to improve their fine motor skills, as the hand-eye co-ordination needed to create art with threads and fabrics requires a precise attention to detail.  

 

  1. Create Social Connections  

 

Art doesn’t have to be a solo project! The great thing about art is that it brings people together and is so much more fun when it’s shared! Try joining a local art club, like a “stitch-and-bitch” or take up lessons at a community art centre or museum. If you’re a more experienced artist or want to take your hobby to the next level, consider joining a makerspace or paying for a membership to a community studio space so you can make art alongside other artists. If getting out to meet people is a barrier, you can also join a chat room or website online dedicated to sharing your art with others. 


A makerspace
A makerspace

  1. Sense of Purpose 

 

Art can imbue life with meaning and significance. Through the creation and appreciation of art, we can explore existential questions, confront challenging emotions, and find beauty in the world around us. Engaging with art in this way can provide a sense of purpose by helping us find meaning in our experiences and relationships. For some, creating art is a way to leave a legacy and make a positive impact on the world. Whether through inspiring others, raising awareness about important issues, or contributing to cultural dialogue, art has the power to shape society and influence future generations.  

 

Tips for Getting Started  

 

  1. Start Small 

 

You might be tempted to do a deep dive into a new art form or hobby but hold your horses! Art supplies can get expensive depending on what type of art you want to try, so dip your toes in first. For example, you might be tempted to spend a lot of money on embroidery materials (threads, fabric, hoops, needles, etc.), but to start out you may want to get a premade embroidery kit that already has all the tools and supplies you need for a project to test out how you like it and if you want to continue on with it.  

 

  1. Use What’s Around You  

 

If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on art supplies, use what’s around you at home! You can use pens and paper to draw or recycle old containers to make dioramas. Get creative and see what you can make! If you need to supplement your materials, a trip to a dollar store for a few essentials like paint and glue won’t break the bank.  


A miniature
A miniature

  1. Get Out into Nature 

 

Nature can be an endless source of inspiration for art and creativity, and studies show that spending time in nature is good for our overall wellbeing. Next time you’re able, go out in nature with a pencil and sketchpad. Draw what you see or make impressions with leaves! You can even try your hand at making art with nature itself, like Andy Goldsworthy. 


Andy Goldsworthy art
Andy Goldsworthy art

In conclusion, there are many health benefits to making art! Art can provide us with a therapeutic outlet for our emotions, reduce stress, increase our self-awareness, and improve our overall well-being. Overall, incorporating art into one's life can be a powerful tool for promoting mental health and fostering personal growth. 


As always, if you are looking to book an appointment with any one of the therapists at Relationship Matters you may contact us via email at admin@relationshipmatterstherapy.com, or by phone at (226) 894-4112. 

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