You may think that art therapy is a relatively new field. In fact, art therapy began as a means to treat all manner of emotional and psychological problems as early as the 1940s. Even then, experts recognized the many benefits of art and creation. Painting and drawing, in particular, could really help people feel better and rejoin society with a healthier mindset and able to function better than they were before. Here’s how painting can assist you with your mental and emotional health.
It Relieves Anxiety
When you are painting, you become focused on the task at hand: your breathing slows and becomes more rhythmic—much deeper than before. This is in sharp contrast to someone who is having an anxiety or panic attack, where their breathing is faster, more shallow, and erratic. Painting distracts your mind from whatever is causing you anxiety and helps bring physical and emotional responses to triggers and stressors under control.
It Helps You Become More Focused
People with ADHD or ADD often struggle with focus. Painting requires a lot of concentration because your brain actively chooses colors, mixes colors, and decides what to paint and where on the canvas or board to apply your paint. These moment-to-moment choices about how to paint your artwork force you to focus on the task at hand.
Additionally, people who paint find that their ability to focus transfers over to other areas of their lives. The takeaway from painting is that you recognize how an organized approach to just about anything in life helps you make choices and steps in the direction you want to go. If you spend time painting every day, you may just find that a lot of other tasks you need or want to do come easier and without struggling with your ability to focus.
Painting Improves Self-Esteem
Don’t say you can’t paint. There are dozens of artists that don’t paint life-like objects and are still artists. For example, Jackson Pollack made paintings that were nothing but paint dripped on canvas. You can paint whatever, and what you find in the process is increased self-esteem.
That self-esteem boost is tied to the fact that you are creating something and enjoying the process of creating it. It’s yours, and you own it. You can make anything you want with paint, and that good feeling boosts your self-esteem.