Why creating DIY art is so popular – it helps you stay calm and relaxed (and it’s fun!)
6 reasons you should pick up a paintbrush – Why it is Important and How it Can Help you!
HOW TO MAKE CREATING ART A SELF-CARE PRACTICE
Stay calm, stay centered, relax!
We cannot deny that the past year has been overwhelming and emotionally draining for most of us. However, getting back to normal life is easier when we are healthy, both physically and mentally/emotionally.
While we’re still managing to get by, we humans can only take so much. With that being said, it’s crucial for us to find avenues for self-care. These are instrumental for us to bounce back and face each day head on. So, how can we effectively take care of ourselves?
Self-care can be achieved through simple activities done mindfully. One proven way is through making art.
Art creation as self-care
Studies have shown that art is a powerful tool to improve our physical, mental, and emotional health. A Drexel University study once found that 75 percent of its participants’ stress-related hormones or cortisol levels lowered. Additionally, experts are taking holistic approaches such as art therapy to improve one’s well-being.
Art takes many forms. It can refer to visual arts (drawing, painting, sculpture, etc.), music, creative writing, motion picture, theater, dancing—the sky’s the limit.
Of course, art creation as a means of self-care doesn’t have to be complicated. And it doesn’t matter at all if you’re Picasso or a stick-figure maven. Art is free and we can do it however we like. It just takes authentic self-expression as we create something. After all, the work you produce is your art.
How art colors the canvas of self-care
Now that we’ve understood the benefits of self-care and how powerful art is for practicing self-care, let’s find out the reasons why it’s distinctly important.
1. Art allows us to connect to our core
We’ve been so busy processing everything around us that we often forget to check up on our inner selves. How are we doing? Are our external actions still in consonance with our core?
Creating art allows us to connect to our senses, body, and mind on profound levels. Observe that when we create art, we often find ourselves zoning out and deeply focused on what we’re doing. This way, we tune in to our inner selves to hear our thoughts and perceptions, discover more about ourselves, and process our emotions. This aids us in communicating better with ourselves and with others.
2. Art gives space for self-expression
Our inner world can be clearly seen through the lens of a creative medium. The colors we select, the textures we make, and the pressure in our brushstrokes show how we think and feel. When we make art, we make choices. These choices are based on what our core says.
Art tells our story. It allows us to express our harrowing experiences that are difficult to verbalize. Some also get to find meaning, peace, and healing through art making. Edvard Munch, a renowned Norwegian artist who suffered from anxiety and auditory hallucinations, among others, portrayed his dark experience through his artwork. Per Munch’s diary, his famous painting called “The Scream” was inspired by “a gust of melancholy.” His craft eventually became his serene escape.
3. Art teaches us to embrace flaws
How realistic our work looks or how staunch our lines are don’t determine our art’s beauty, the same way others’ expectations and standards don’t measure our worth. So let our instincts and preferences drive our art’s elements.
American artist Paul Strisik said in his The Art of Landscape Painting book, “In some indefinable way, the strangeness of the picture can often be an essential part of its charm.” Truly, what we see as imperfections can set our art apart. So, instead of asking whether your stroke is right or wrong, it’s better to check if it enhances or diminishes your overall artwork.
4. Art activates our brain’s reward center
Studies show that making art lights up the brain’s reward pathway. It also triggers the release of dopamine, a chemical that regulates our mood and allows us to feel happy.
Making art, like any other creative activities, helps us tap into a state of “flow” or the state of total immersion in an activity. This flow enables better performance, increases motivation levels, calms the mind, and reduces stress. For females, this also helps curb anxiety during periods.
5. Art helps us pace ourselves
It’s easy to rush ourselves and get off our track in pursuit of accomplishing big tasks, achieving goals, and/or keeping up with other people’s progress. To revert to the right tempo, try creating art.
Making art allows us to slow down, practice mindfulness, identify our preferred art styles, and feel our emotions’ rhythm. These experiences help us create efficiently, appreciate the result more, and confidently own it. In parallel, when we pace ourselves, we get to have enough time to process our emotions, remain present and focused, see things from a better vantage point, and work efficiently.
6. Art reminds us to enjoy the process
We often find ourselves wanting to see the results first before we can let ourselves enjoy. We also tend to try to avoid making errors because they seem to “ruin the plan”. If we want to harness art as a form of self-care, it’s important to embrace the journey and savor every progress.
There is a delight in buying or DIY-ing art supplies, making repetitive pencil strokes, fusing colors to create different hues, arranging piano chords, and memorizing dance steps. Likewise, each mistake we make teaches us something new. All these experiences show us that there is beauty in the process. We just have to look for it.
By enjoying the journey, we make every moment count. This, in turn, makes art creation more rewarding.
Kick-start your self-care journey by figuring out your mode of creative expression. Ask yourself what engages your mind and heart the most. From there, start building creative self-care routines. Remember to also relish the process and let your creative juices flow freely.
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Article contributed by Katie Pierce