Why is Creating Art a Healing Process and When Can You Start?

This guest blog post was originally posted in the Creative Health Blog for the Bangor Daily News.

It seems that stress and anxiety are affecting people more than ever before. We live in a busy, fast-paced world with many deadlines and responsibilities. Many people are unhappy in their jobs and in their lives in general. Life can feel overwhelming. We feel we are strong when we can “hold it all together” and “push through” the stress or detach from what we are really feeling in our hearts and in our bodies. Over time, we begin to feel depleted, exhausted, fatigued – like we have nothing left to give.

Taking the time to slow down, breathe deeply, and create art helps us to break free from the constant expectations and the debilitating chatter of our minds. Creating art allows us to free ourselves from daily worries and tensions and connect with deeper parts of ourselves. When we take the time to create we are able to enter into the “flow” state where we become completely immersed in the present moment. When we are in the present moment we are able to access a meditative state of mind and the profound healing it brings. Research shows that adults who spend more time in “flow state” are happier overall.

Most importantly, creating art helps us to become more self-aware. Once we have created an image to represent how we are feeling, we become conscious of our inner thoughts and feelings that we aren’t able to be fully aware of when we are distracted. We are able to take time to accept our feelings and thoughts without judgement and take personal responsibility for how we would like to move forward. We are able to live life in a grounded way from a place of awareness and not in reaction to past struggles or unhealthy patterns. The creative process truly facilitates space for transformation, the ability to see ourselves and our life experiences differently from an authentic place.

Tips for beginning a creative healing practice:

  • Find uninterrupted time in a safe place

  • Breathe deeply

  • Let go of expectations

  • Let go of inner critic – this is all about the process

  • Create from childlike state of curiosity, wonder and openness

  • Be gentle with yourself, this process is about expressing a feeling in lines, shapes, and colors

  • Stay present in your process

  • Just imagine what your emotion feels like and create

  • Stay present with what comes up

  • Take time to sit with your image and dialogue with it

  • Journaling about what it reminds you of might be helpful

  • Share new awareness with loved one/therapist for support if appropriate

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