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Igniting Your Creativity: Using Art for Mental Well-Being

Art has always held a special place in my heart. I can’t say that I am a great artist but I’ve always found the act of creation to be very fulfilling. Rather than fixating on the end result, I find comfort in the process of drawing and painting, because it allows me to connect with my emotions and unravel the depths of my inner world. 

In this blog post, we’ll explore how art can boost your mental well-being and share fun ways to incorporate it into your daily life. 

Benefits of Art On Mental Well-Being:

Let’s dive into the incredible advantages that art offers for nurturing your mental well-being: 

Mindfulness and Being Present:

When you engage in art, you naturally immerse yourself in the present moment. Whether it’s doodling, colouring, or painting, art allows you to focus your attention on the task at hand. This is why colouring books have become so popular – they help reduce anxiety and stress. By shifting your focus to the colours and lines in front of you, you can temporarily escape the chaos in your mind and experience a sense of calmness and clarity.

Self-Expression:

Art serves as a powerful outlet for self-expression. It can sometimes be challenging to put feelings into words. That’s where art comes in. Creating a drawing or painting allows you to communicate and share your emotions in a visual and personal way. It’s like having a conversation with yourself and the world, without the pressure of finding the right words. 

Understanding and Communicating Our Inner World:

Our inner world can sometimes be like a complicated maze, full of confusion and uncertainty. As a teenager, I found comfort in art because it helped me navigate through this chaos. When I felt overwhelmed with my emotions, art provided a safe space where I could organize and understand my experiences. Instead of struggling to explain feelings like apathy in words, I could express them through painting or drawing. Art gives us a way to communicate and unravel the mysteries of our inner world. 

How to Get Started:

Now that you know the benefits of creating art on mental well-being, let’s discuss how you can incorporate this into your life. As you try these activities, I would like to remind you that art-making is for everyone, regardless of age or talent. I would encourage you to experiment with different mediums and focus on the process rather than the end result.

Draw Your Emotions:

Take a moment to draw what you are feeling right now. How would you visually represent the sensations and the thoughts that you are experiencing at this moment? For example, let’s assume I am feeling the all familiar feeling of stuckness and paralysis. I might draw it as if I was a person whose feet were stuck in concrete. I would then draw other elements. Is there anyone else with me, also stuck in concrete? Or maybe there is a person who is standing on safe ground and extending a hand? What’s the weather like? Is it foggy and smokey? Maybe a little terrifying? You can see how adding all of these elements creates a deeper story than simply saying, I am feeling paralyzed and stuck. 

Paint Your Colours: 

One of my favourite activities as a teenager was what I called chaotic canvas. I would use all the colours that captured my emotions on a canvas in a chaotic pattern. I might use a toothbrush to splatter the paint or use brush strokes. The purpose of this was not only to have a visual representation of the emotional chaos that was trying to unravel inside, but it also allowed me to be in the present moment. I would make sure to do it very slowly, focusing my attention on the sensation of painting or using the toothbrush to splatter paint.

Art Collage:

This one is for those that can’t shake the feeling of self-consciousness when it comes to art/painting. If you notice that you spend all of your time worrying about the quality of your creation rather than being focused on the process, then I would encourage you to create an art collage using cutouts of elements that you think capture your experience. 

Visualize:

Similar to the art collage, this is an easy one that you can engage in. You don’t even need any art supplies for this one. Just simply use your imagination. You can visualize it in as much detail as possible. Visualize the exact colours, the smell of the paint and the sensation of holding a paintbrush in your hands. 

Create Your Personal Flag:

Explore the visual symbols that encapsulate your identity. If you were to design a flag representing yourself, what would it contain? Are there any unique symbols you would incorporate? For instance, my flag might feature a mosaic combining elements of the Iranian and Canadian flags, symbolizing my journey with chronic pain. Perhaps a phoenix could embody the resilience I have discovered amidst the challenges. 

These activities are appropriate for all ages but they can be extremely beneficial for teens. Teenage years are filled with a lot of emotions. These are activities are meant to be enjoyable and therapeutic. There are no rules or judgments – just allow yourself to explore and embrace your creativity. 

If you found this blog post intriguing and want to delve deeper into the connection between art and mental health, I highly recommend exploring the following informative articles:

“Brain Research Shows the Arts Promote Mental Health” – Dive into the valuable insights provided by the University of Calgary in their article that explores how the arts positively impact our mental well-being.

“Art for Self-Care and Mental Health” – Discover the transformative power of art in promoting self-care and enhancing mental health, as discussed in the article by the University of Washington.

And remember, if you find yourself struggling with your mental health, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. At Searchlight Counselling, we understand the difficulties you may be going through, and we are here to provide support on your mental health journey. Our dedicated team of professionals is ready to listen, guide and assist you in finding ways to improve your well-being. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Keep in mind that seeking help is a sign of strength, and we are here to help you every step of the way. 

Picture of Sara Ahmadian
Sara Ahmadian

Coming from an immigrant family background herself, Sara specializes in working with clients through issues around identity and belonging and immigrant/racial identity. Sara offers counselling in both English and Farsi. She is also passionate about working with clients with chronic pain/illness to help them improve their quality of life. In her downtime, you can find Sara playing video games (especially RPGs) to relax!

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Searchlight Counselling provides in-person and virtual therapy for individuals and couples in Burnaby, Vancouver, and across British Columbia. Specializing in BIPOC & 2SLGBTQIA+.