The Mental Health Benefits of Art Therapy – Feel Calm, Happy & Healthy!

Creating Art Can Make You Feel Calm, Happy and Healthy

There was always something special about art, no matter whether you are the one who creates it or simply someone who enjoys it.  Art has the ability to inspire people, make them think and help them see things from a different perspective. Art therapy comes in many forms, by simply creating art, whether it involves painting a landscape, playing a piece of music, dancing or writing a story, stimulates the brain and encourages positive actions in our lives.


A natural way to process complex feelings

If you are under a lot of stress or you suffer from anxiety, artistic expression is a natural way to process complex feelings, unwind, and improve your overall mental health and wellbeing. Expressing your feelings through words can sometimes be difficult or even painful.

However, through artistic expression, you will be able to communicate your thoughts, ideas or fears in a way that verbal communication never can.

Creating art takes you on a journey of self-discovery and self-development.

When approached the right way, it can help you improve self-management, improve communication skills, reduce stress, build self-esteem and much more.

Simply put, art can make you feel calmer, and be happier and healthier.

Before we take a look at some practical eco-friendly artistic activities anyone can try at home, let’s take a closer look at benefits of art therapy for your mental health and wellbeing. 


Mental Health Benefits of Art Therapy

Establish self-control

If you are experiencing a lot of stress or simply going through a difficult period in your life, you probably feel overwhelmed by your emotions and have a hard time controlling them.

Art therapy can help you learn how to focus, build discipline and calm down. 


Alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety

Studies have shown that creative activities such as writing, playing a piece of music, painting, and sculpting can help combat the chemical imbalances in the brain that may lead to depression, and help foster positivity in one’s life.

By creating a piece of art, you will also achieve a feeling of self-accomplishment and provide yourself a bit of something to look forward to every day.


Learn how to communicate

When you are overwhelmed with feelings, it may be very hard to express your thoughts and emotions.

Through art, you will not only learn to self-express but also learn how to communicate effectively and develop the ability to reach out to others.


Address emotional traumas

If you have experienced emotional trauma, you are probably attempting to block painful memories and forget the entire experience. However, that is not the right way to heal.

Art can help you slowly open up and begin to express your feelings about the event. Through each brush stroke, played note or written word, you will slowly take steps to move forward and heal. 


Reduce stress

We live in a tough time where daily demands and obligations can take a severe toll on our body and mind. A completely natural way to de-stress is to create art.

Painting with your fingers, coloring or creating colourful mandalas can help you transform negative energy and stress into something positive and beautiful. 


Improve problem-solving skills

If you are dealing with a problem, such as struggling to fit in or keeping with the rapid changes in your life, art therapy can help you open the mind and encourage you to come up with a smart solution to problems.

By focusing your attention on artistic expression, you will stimulate your mind and enhance out-of-the-box thinking. 


Build self-esteem

Studies suggest that confidence is essential for feeling happy and taking care of your mental health.

Expressive art therapy activities can help you build the self-confidence necessary for handling numerous social situations and life challenges with ease.


Eco-Friendly Art Activities

Apart from improving your physical and mental wellbeing, art therapy can also help you acknowledge and increase your connection with nature.

Creating art not only brings understanding, healing, and health to the ways we relate to humans, but also to the ways we relate to the earth’s systems. 

Eco-friendly art therapy activities include making art with natural and discarded manufactured materials. It can also involve using organic materials as artistic mediums or tools.

For example, use a rock as your canvas and leaves and flowers to makes colorful collages. 

Your options and possibilities are numerous. Famous artists used elemental shifts – like blowing wind or flowing water – as part of their art piece.

The limits are set by your imagination.

Here are some simple environmentally friendly art therapy activities you can try at home alone or with your friends and kids…..


Painted Rocks

For this project, you need stones or rocks, paints, and brushes. Start by collecting different shapes and sizes of rock and start painting. For easier paint jobs, use smoother and flatter rocks, and use acrylic or craft paint.

You can paint gratitude stones for your friends, or if you are doing this arts and crafts project with your friends, create a colorful owl family or a colony of ladybugs.

This is a great way to distract yourself from worries, engage in social activities and create beautiful memories. 


Shell Frame

In order to make a beautiful shell frame, you need enough shells to cover your frame, quality glue, and a wooden frame. If you want, you can paint the shells before gluing them to the frame.

Simply apply a generous amount of glue to one section of the frame and cover it with shells.

If you need to fill in the gaps between the shells, you can add colorful pearls, marbles, starfish or anything that will go well with your summer frame. 

You can do the same thing with acorns. Before gluing them to the frame, you must dry them by baking them in a preheated oven (set it to 100 degrees Celsius) for half an hour.

Once they are cool, you can paint them or even add twine ribbons as a final touch. 


Collage of Leaves and Flowers

To make this earthy collage, you will have to collect a bunch of different leaves and flowers. You also need scissors, paper, and glue. Now simply begin to make a collage.

Use scissors to cut leaves in shapes that you need to create your masterpiece.

Try making a collage of the person you love (use leaves for skin, and flowers for hair and eyes). The person you love may be someone who you have recently lost or haven’t seen in a long time.

You can also depict something you are grateful of or something you fear. It is important to be honest with yourself and to express your emotions without hiding from painful memories or feelings. 


Leaf Printing

Leaf printing is a great activity that creates beautiful pieces of art. To get started, you need, fresh leaves, paint, and paper. By using brushes or sponges, paint your leaves with different colors on one side.

Now just press it on a piece of paper, and carefully remove the leaf to avoid tearing or smudging the paint. You can do the same thing with feathers, but it is vital that they are big and dense. 

To accurately express your emotional state, each leaf and color should represent a different emotion. For example, a lush red leaf can represent anger, a hearty pink leaf can present love, a thin violet leaf can represent sadness and so on.

If you want to express a specific emotion, use shapes and colours that you associate with it. As a result, you will get a leafy painting that will represent your feelings in an abstract manner.


Let Us Know

Do you use art as a way to help your emotions?  Do you have any other great ideas for at projects that link to nature and the environment?

We’re sure our other readers would love to hear more ideas in the comments below….

Mary Ann Cohen

Mary Ann Cohen has over 35 years of International visual fine art experience and she is considered one of the nations most successful and respected art dealers. She actively supports the use of art therapy activities in galleries and museum environment.

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