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The Benefits of Art Therapy: Creativity, Imagination & Well-being

April 12, 2021

Marianne Huebner, MS-ATR, Art Therapist                         

Get out your glue gun and popsicle sticks; we are going to tackle mental wellness in a way you probably didn’t think about before: arts and crafts.

The Science Behind Art Therapy

Often dismissed as something reserved for elementary students, arts and crafts hold real mental health benefits. Recent advancements in neuroscience have been able to map out multiple ways that creativity contributes to our overall well-being. It’s not about occupying time or decorating your refrigerator, though don’t discount those as legitimate benefits.

Studies out of Drexel University found that forty-five minutes of creativity measurably reduces our cortisol (stress hormone) levels. Additional studies out of both Drexel and Harvard Universities cite increases in dopamine (our feel-good brain chemical) when participants did things like draw, color, paint, work in clay, or write.

How Does Art Therapy Work?

In addition to these scientifically-proven perks of reducing stress and feeling better, creativity:

  • Allows us to express our emotions without needing words
  • Assists in emotional understanding and resilience
  • Helps us to feel more connected to ourselves and the outside world
  • Instills hope as we consider what is possible from the vantage point of our imaginations

Art Therapy Ideas & Activities

  • Online resources like Pinterest, Skillshare, Skillpop, Youtube, and more
  • Paint-by-numbers
  • Adult coloring books

A warning, though: creativity activates the reward centers in our brains. This means the guest room will become an art studio and the possibility of glitter in the home is real. Indulge your inner artist. It feels good, and now you know why.

 

Follow along with the Art Therapy exercise "Drawing Your Breath" by clicking here. 

 

Articles cited: https://neurosciencenews.com/cortisol-art-stress-4480/ and https://www.health.harvard.edu/mental-health/the-healing-power-of-art

 

Learn More About Art Therapy

 

Editor’s note: This blog post is presented for informational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness. If you have any health concern, see a licensed healthcare professional in person.