Stress and Art

Stress and ArT

Stress is defined as a feeling of emotional or physical tension. It can come from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry or nervous. In small amounts it can be good for you, for example, in dangerous situations or to meet a deadline. However, chronic stress can cause depression, anxiety, and cardiovascular disease including; increased blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, heart attack and strokes. New research shows that stress levels of all people have increased significantly since 1990. In fact, in the last decade stress levels for middle aged women have surpassed others with a 19% increase! Now I realize what I am going to say next is anecdotal evidence but here goes- I work with a high number of younger people and to me their stress level seems very high also, certainly higher that I experienced at their age. So some methods to combat stress are badly needed and these methods cannot break the bank.

Suggested management of stress includes professional counseling, exercise, nutrition, socializing, yoga, and acupuncture. These activities all excellent to add to your life for chronic stress.

However......... (channeling my inner Prince)

Dearly beloved,

We are gathered here today

to talk about a treatment called...ART........(therapy) !!!!!!

Art therapy has been shown to significantly help individuals who struggle with anxiety. Art therapy works to heal anxiety through helping a person feel a sense of calm, express ourselves and become more self aware.

Art therapies such as painting, watercoloring, drawing, sculpting, photography, etc. are meditative, quiet and calming which soothe symptoms of nervousness and irritability. Most importantly, a calm mind is needed to process difficult emotions and experiences. Art therapy allows a person to express themselves in a SAFE manner and also helps a person to discover new aspects of oneself that they weren't aware of before. This gained creativity can help solving future problems.

Chronic stress ( in my case Generalized Anxiety Syndrome) is something that I have dealt with my entire life, well as long as I can remember. I have incorporated many stress relieving techniques into my life such as; hiking, yoga and meditation. But, only one activity allows me to totally immerse myself in calmness and that is painting. I, myself oil and watercolor paint and when doing so, am concentrating on only one thing--what is on the canvas- no work, no relationship woes, no financial problems- no nothing. 

When I am painting my heart rate goes down and my breathing is deeper. Also, and this is key, the effects happen whether I am painting a picture OR doodling. Sometimes I just screw around with colors and designs when I am not feeling particularly focused. Remember there are NO RULES in your studio space. I love the smell of paint and the sound and sight of mixing paint on a wooden pallet and it hitting the canvas. I love wearing baggy, old clothes and having paint all over them and under my fingernails. It is this childlike abandonment calms me and fills me with joy.

It doesn't take much to integrate art therapy into your life. A small area that is yours with enough room to have an easel (standing or tabletop) paints and some brushes. You can clear some wall space for your art or doodles and throughout the day collect images or items (shells, rocks, leaves) to place on a shelf or table in your little studio. Remember this is your calm space and there are NO RULES!!

I hope you all enjoyed this blog and it inspires you to find your space and create!

Joel and Christina