February 7, 2022

Painting As Therapy

The positive psychological effects that painting and art can have on the mind.

When speaking about therapeutic practices and mindfulness, we genuinely believe that painting has a lot to offer. In this post, we explore what you may look to gain from having a painting practice and how it can dramatically improve your life.

If you are someone who is frequently stressed, know that you are not alone. The truth is that most adults in America struggle with this issue for one reason or another. The rising numbers are a significant concern since stress can have long-lasting effects on our health and can negatively influence our decision-making.

Without getting too deep into the science, we know that cortisol is a stress-related hormone that increases when the mind is hyperactive. These increases in cortisol trigger the fight-or-flight responses that we can measure in the body, such as high blood pressure and an increased heart rate. Chronic stress can lead to a higher mortality rate, depression, accelerated aging, aggressive behavior, and even epigenetic changes.

Understanding how the brain and body work together can be beneficial and provide insight into how our biology functions, but the real question is, what can we do about it?

Many articles dive into the benefits of exercise and meditation, but few recommend art as therapy. Despite what many think, painting is not just a right-brain activity! One of the reasons artists love creating so much is that it actively engages the mind in problem-solving skills requiring analytical thinking and creative, abstract thinking.

Furthermore, tasks that engage the mind and introduce an element of problem-solving come highly recommended by doctors to keep your stress levels at bay. One key reason is that they allow you to focus on only one thing. While multi-tasking puts the frontal lobe of your brain under stress, single-tasking through engaging activities, such as painting or playing an instrument eliminates that stress.

Painting is an excellent task to induce what's known as 'flow state.' Flow state simply means that an individual is fully engaged in whatever activity they are taking part in. This sustained level of intense focus and concentration allows you to be fully present in the moment and lose all sense of time. This disassociation from time allows for the emotional release needed to relax the mind and let go of any problems that contribute to stress and increased cortisol levels. Painting even boosts memory function and has been shown to decrease a person's chance of developing Alzheimer's and dementia.
Next time you feel anxious or overwhelmed, don't be afraid to pick up a paintbrush and let go of some of that tension. We recommend setting aside at least an hour or two each week to develop an art practice so that you are already building the habit of dealing with stress creatively. If you find that this helps, feel free to let us know!

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