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  • Writer's pictureFiona Hewkin Counselling

Art is good for our Mental Health!

Updated: Nov 7, 2023

Art makes us feel good!

Did you know that even just looking at art is good for your mental health? In a world filled with stress, anxiety, and the never-ending hustle and bustle of modern life, it's essential to find avenues for relaxation and self-care. One often-overlooked, yet highly effective method is the world of art. Whether you're an artist or just someone who enjoys admiring artwork, you'll be pleased to know that art has a profound impact on our mental health.

Studies have shown that viewing art relieves stress and can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Researchers in the UK suggest that when we look at art that we consider really beautiful triggers all the same physical responses as when we fall in love. Now if that isn’t a good reason to potter off to a gallery, I don’t know what is.

A woman as a tree walking. Fiona Hewkin Counselling

Actually creating art, in any form is even better for us. The act of creating lowers markers for cortisol, (stress hormone) and can raise serotonin levels. Making art impacts on brain wave patterns, emotions and can help regulate our nervous system. The best bit is that it doesn’t even have to be great art. Doodling, colouring in, just messing about with paints all have the same benefits.

1. An Outlet for Emotions

Art is like a safe space where you can pour your heart out without fear of judgment. Whether you're feeling overjoyed, overwhelmed, or anything in between, it's all good. When you put your thoughts and feelings onto a canvas or paper, it's like a release valve for your emotions. The act of creating art can help you express those deep-seated emotions that might be hard to put into words. So, if you're upset or confused, grab those crayons, and let your feelings flow.

2. Stress Relief

In our crazy, fast-paced world, stress is a frequent visitor to our lives. The good news is that art can be your stress-busting friend. When you immerse yourself in the creative process, your mind takes a break from worrying about work, bills, or that never-ending to-do list. It's like a mini holiday for your brain. Colouring, painting, or doodling can help you feel more relaxed, and the world's problems seem a little less daunting.

3. Mindfulness in a Brushstroke

Mindfulness is all the rage these days, and for good reason. It's a super effective way to stay present and focused on the here and now. But guess what? Art is like a back door to mindfulness. When you're working on a piece, you're in the zone. Your thoughts slow down, and you concentrate on the colours, the shapes, and the textures. It can quieten your chattering mind. So, if you've ever struggled with traditional meditation, pick up a sketchbook and give art a whirl.

4. Boosts Self-Esteem

Ever doubted your abilities or felt like you're not good enough? Yeah me too. Welcome to the club – we've all been there. But here's the best thing: art can give your self-esteem a much-needed boost. When you create something beautiful or even just something meaningful to you, it's like a pat on your own back. You start believing in your abilities and value your unique perspective. Art helps you see the beauty in imperfection and teaches you that it's okay to make mistakes. Ok it can also drive you mad, bring out the perfectionist in you and make you want to chuck your paints in the bin, but it is all a learning curve, right?

5. Problem-Solving Skills

Art isn't just about making pretty pictures; it's about solving creative puzzles. When you're working on a project, you're constantly making decisions – which colour to use, where to place that line, and what texture to create. This decision-making process sharpens your problem-solving skills, and it's a skill that you can carry over to real-life situations. So, art isn't just about creating art; it's about creating a better, more adaptable you.

6. A Sense of Accomplishment

The feeling of finishing a piece of art can be incredibly satisfying. It's like climbing a mountain or running a marathon, but without the sweat and sore muscles (unless you're really into that sort of thing!). When you see your painting in front of you, there's a sense of accomplishment that boosts your confidence.

7. A Creative Escape

Life can be a bit mundane at times, right? We all need an escape, a little adventure that doesn't involve leaving your living room. Art can be that magical portal. You can create a world entirely your own, with creatures, landscapes, and stories that transport you far away from the humdrum of daily life. It's your ticket to a fantastical realm where your imagination is the only limit.

8. Emotional Healing

Art therapy is a real thing. It's used by professionals to help individuals heal from trauma, grief, or mental health challenges. The act of creating art can be a cathartic experience. It allows you to process your emotions and work through difficult experiences in a non-verbal way. If you've ever felt that talking about your feelings isn't your thing, then painting or drawing might be your secret healing tool.

9. Building Connections

Art is a universal language, transcending cultures, languages, and backgrounds. Sharing your art with others can be a great way to connect on a deeper level. Whether you join a local art class, share your creations online, or simply give your artwork to a friend, it's a bridge that brings people together. Art is the glue that can bond you with like-minded souls and create lasting friendships.

10. A Break from the Digital World

We live in a world dominated by screens, from our smartphones to our laptops. It's refreshing to take a break from the digital deluge and reconnect with the tactile world. Art lets you put away the screens and engage your senses in a tangible way. The feel of the paper, the smell of the paint, and the sound of the pencil scratching – it's a sensory experience that brings you back to the real world.

11. Time for Self-Care

In the hustle and bustle of our lives, we often forget to take a step back and care for ourselves. Art is an act of self-love. It's your way of saying, "Hey, I deserve a little me-time." Whether it's 10 minutes or an entire afternoon, dedicating time to your creative pursuits is an investment in your well-being.

12. Fun and Play

Last but certainly not least, art is fun. It's like being a kid again when you could play without a care in the world. When you're creating art, there are no rules, no right or wrong. It's about letting your inner child run wild and having a blast along the way. So, let your creativity loose and see where it takes you.

All this clever science tells us what we already know. Art is good for us! Whether we are looking at it, making it or enjoying playing with colour. It’s all beneficial to our mental health.

If you would like to get in touch to learn more about this or counselling in general do get in touch via the contact page

Watercolour of sunflowers by Laura Binkley Berg. Fiona Hewkin Counselling


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