Art as Therapy

Not everyone who makes art does it with the intent to sell or even to show the artwork. Some people create art as a self-expression or as a way to pass the time. Sometimes art is used in the mental health profession to help patients better communicate their issues with their therapists, whether those patients are children with special needs or war veterans with PTSD, and oftentimes, art is a simple stress-reliever.

A person on the phone for a good length of time, for instance, might doodle on his or her message pad around a written contact name and number. A student in a math class might make some random drawings in the margins of his or her notebook, next to complex math formulas. An employee at a boring meeting might create caricatures of his or her co-workers on a notepad between the meeting minutes.

In the last five or so years, coloring books have become a popular way to relieve stress among adults; such books have been around forever, but until recently they'd always been marketed toward children. Another popular form of stress-relief is the art of the Zentangle, where the artist creates an unplanned abstract drawing using repetitive patterns. In both, the artist doesn't have to think about the end product; the activity is all about the meditative effects of the process — the simple act of coloring or doodling, putting pen or pencil to paper.

Studies have shown that such forms of art therapy can be effective against anxiety, so make sure to take time out of your stressful day and lose yourself in drawing or coloring something.


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