A practice as old as time, Art has been discovered to not only encourage play and creativity, but to also positively impact your mental wellness.
Let’s ask Recovery Coach Beth to paint a picture
We chatted with One Good* Day Recovery Coach Beth, about her own experience of art as a medium for recovery and improving mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. An artist herself, Beth began studying Art Therapy in University – a therapy used for her own mental wellness journey.
“Painting especially brings me a lot of calmness and lets me explore thoughts, emotions or just my imagination in ways I can’t outside of art.”
The ability to gain a child-like perspective of art as ‘play’ gives adults the chance to let go and step into their creativity. Beth chose to write her thesis on the importance of ‘play’ through art.
The Importance of Play
Beth’s thesis confirmed the impact play and creativity can have on mental health struggles, and on our self-awareness. Often self-prescribed by Beth for her own mental health, she has gone on to successfully use this method with her NDIS Recovery Coaching clients.
Art as a judgement-free, limitless medium provides adults with a healthy way to channel feelings and increase self-connection. It can rid feelings of overwhelm, lessen the experience of pain and regulate emotions unlike other talk-based therapies. It can provide an escape or distraction from uncomfortable feelings or moods.
The benefits of Art Therapy
Art therapy has endless applications in both adults and children and is commonly used with other medicines and therapies like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Art therapy has been shown to:
- Improve focus
- Increase social interactions
- Increase empathy
- Create coping skills
- Encourage emotional regulation
- Improve physical wellbeing
- Decrease physical pain
- Decrease anxiety & depression
- Decrease de-personalisation and de-realisation
When in a creative environment, the emphasis lies on the possibility of using different mediums to switch off expectations which allows yourself to simply ‘create’ without constraint or control.
Mindfulness as medicine
The very concept of mindfulness is a bonus component of art therapy, with the individual becoming immersed in the experience. Switching off background thoughts of yesterday or tomorrow, it effectively encourages the mind to stay in the NOW. Used as a daily tool for emotional regulation, Beth recommends a daily dose when it comes to art.
“Playing’ as a part of daily life is amazing for your mental health and is recommended to be an ongoing part of self-care”.
Art therapies in the home
There’s no ‘best way’ to get started with art as therapy, but Beth has some great suggestions for art therapy in the home.
“Simple acts like sketching what you see around you, journaling, doodling, or tracing are great little ways to practice these techniques. It’s all about allowing yourself to create without fear of judgement”.
Mindfulness; a muse
In the Art Therapy process, you’re encouraged to draw inspiration from your surroundings, or your senses. This provides an escape with a blank canvas of opportunity to play around with different mediums. You can try painting, drawing, pouring resin, throwing clay and many more, to find which method suits you. For a more gradual introduction into Art Therapy, you may decide to begin the process from other mediums like journalling or doodling.
Whatever you decide to start with, remember that there are no expectations or pressures for performance – only an encouragement to BEGIN! Step into creativity, where there are no rules and the end result is only a symptom of the process.
“The focus is totally on the experience, not the outcome.”
Thank you to Beth, our One Good* Day Recovery Coach for explaining the benefits of Art Therapy and its endless and versatile applications in the world of mental health and psychosocial illness. Now, let’s get our Picasso on! 🎨🖌️