Art for Therapy: The Benefits of Unleashing Your Creative Side

In the last little while, art has been gaining more traction in contributing to society on a significant level. I don’t just mean paintings or sculptures the likes of Rothko, Degas, Kahlo, Matisse, Savage, Morrisseau or Carr, in galleries that people ooh and ahh over, but a myriad of art pieces created by non-professional artists like you and I. Now, some people might shy away from being branded an artist, and that’s okay because we might not necessarily subscribe to the pressure associated with being a creative person. However, by the very nature of creating something resembling art (and I know the word “art” can be interpreted very loosely depending on your perspective), would that not make you an artist? Or at the very least creative?

Artists are special people; their minds work in different ways. Creative people in general have the ability to look at things from different angles, and maybe this flexibility in perspective is what renders the therapeutic aspect of art. It can act as a catharsis for the stresses of this life, and I know this first hand because I am at my happiest when I am being creative: making something with my hands or mind. This making could be the creating of a meal or a crochet project, greeting cards or sketching, photography or even colouring. Yes, colouring, that thing we did with those bright and pointy nibs when we were younger. It has been making a comeback lately, and the marketing suits have a solid reason to push it. Psychology is on their side.

Colouring books adorn the shelves at Indigo, Chapters and Coles. And there are various themes for whatever you’re into: Harry Potter Fan? Animal Enthusiast? Japanese Pattern Lover? There’s something for everyone. Including me! I was at Costco the other day and until now, I haven’t tapped into the colouring frenzy, mostly because I haven’t found a theme that appealed to me. And then, voila! On a neatly-stacked line of books, there was this:

The Shine: Color your life beautiful theme is teeming with Biblical quotes that provide hope during trying times. It is resplendent with nature motifs that seek to calm your nerves as you fill in the colours from your mind’s eye. I had a very trying week, and one day I made it a point to choose and colour a page (below). An hour and half of uninterrupted colouring later, I felt different. I felt like I had taken a power nap and woken up energized and clean of my mental stressors.

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Now, colouring might not prove therapeutic for the non-artist, but I do think there is something in the very action of repetition (rubbing a pencil crayon back and forth across the paper), concentration (making sure the colour doesn’t come out of the lines) and un-pressured creative choice (the opportunity to pick whatever colours and shades you think best suit the picture before you) that makes colouring a strong contender in the realm of Art Therapy. I’ve seen the same stress-relieving benefits to crocheting; the looping of the chain with the same single and double knot motion through the entire piece to create something functional and noteworthy.

Specifically, I think engaging in arts and crafts has the ability to unlock the shackles to our day-to-day must-dos. For awhile, it pulls us back into a state of suspension where our creativity is activated. And that creativity, which utilizes a different part of our brain, can allow for us to tap into our happier selves.

Would I then recommend colouring as a form of relieving stress? Yes, but it doesn’t just have to be colouring. I would recommend any form of art, including the pillar of this blog post: writing.

 

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