Many of us pursue artistic or creative activities because we enjoy them, intuitively feeling that it’s beneficial for us. This intuition is correct as art and creativity can have significant benefits for our mental health. This includes writing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting or other forms of creative expression.
Painting, drawing or moulding objects from clay has been scientifically proven to help people deal with trauma. Art helps us express experiences that are too difficult to put into words, such as a diagnosis of cancer or the maintenance or reconstruction of our identity.
Art Therapy for Mental Health
The benefits of creativity for mental health has led to the idea of art therapy. Any application of the visual arts in a therapeutic context can be considered art therapy. This means you don’t necessarily have to see a therapist to benefit from therapeutic artistic expression so long as you are finding relief in the creative expression of your choice. You also don’t need to be a talented artist.
Studies indicate that art therapy is valuable for treating depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and even some phobias. While you don’t need to work with a licensed therapist, doing so can offer advantages such as having someone to tailor activities for your needs, especially if you’re unsure how to get started.
Benefits of Art Therapy
Art therapy can be used to complement other forms of mental health treatment, providing a range of benefits including:
- Offering an outlet for emotional release where you can express and let go of all your feelings and fears. Making art can help you process emotions like anger and sadness which you might be unable to express yourself.
- Improving your self-esteem by providing a sense of accomplishment.
- Helping you discover and process feelings that may have been lurking in your subconscious or are difficult to express.
- Offering stress relief through a relaxing and enjoyable activity, which is beneficial for managing anxiety, depression and emotional trauma.
Creating art can also stimulate the release of dopamine. You don’t need to be a talented artist to benefit, just ensure you keep and open and honest mind.
Studies found that expressive writing also helps people overcome trauma and manage negative emotions. Asking people to write about positive experiences and about their “best self” is also associated with an increased sense of psychological well-being. Writing has even been shown to improve physical health, although it is not entirely clear why.
Creativity can also be a physical endeavour, as in the case with dance. This mobility brings additional benefits. The mental health benefits of physical exercise are well-documented as it releases endorphins, serotonin and other natural brain chemicals that make you feel good. Studies have also shown that creative activities like dance help people improve their self-esteem.
Need Mental Health Advice in Melbourne or Sydney?
Pinnacle Health Group team of expert psychologists and healthcare providers are here to help you deal with workplace or general life stresses, anxiety and depression. We offer services in multiple locations across Victoria and New South Wales. If you’re injured or need health advice, book an appointment from one of our CBD based health clinics or join a wellness class near you.