Art has been used for therapeutic purposes for decades to provide relief from stress and anxiety. The theory behind art therapy suggests that creating art can help you express emotions that you have trouble vocalizing. In a 2016 study, participating adults who spent 45 minutes sculpting clay, drawing with markers, or making a collage had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and reported that they were more relaxed after the art therapy.
There’s a reason why those coloring books for adults are so popular. When your thoughts are focused on this one simple activity, your brain tends to relax, and you’re not consumed by your thoughts. Whether coloring in a book or creating a piece of art from scratch, there’s no doubt that art therapy has numerous benefits.
Art can also be an effective tool in treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a psychiatric disorder caused by a traumatic event or experience such as abuse, neglect, or witnessing a traumatic event. When triggered, PTSD can cause people to relive the trauma, experience severe anxiety, panic attacks, memory lapses, or dissociation.

How art therapy can help reduce symptoms of PTSD

While typical therapy is often successful in treating PTSD, many clients have trouble vocalizing their feelings. Art therapy provides an effective alternative outlet for expression.
Since the root cause of many cases of PTSD is trauma, art therapy allows clients to externalize complex pieces of their trauma stories and safely access their experiences. Art therapists are trained to use all types of mediums in different ways to help clients access their emotions, to help them feel grounded and safe in their bodies. Engaging in a creative activity also offers a break from stress- even if it’s just for a short time.
Drawing, painting, coloring, or any medium that you feel comfortable with can :

-Calm the nervous system
-Act as a distraction
-Increase self-esteem
-Reduce overstimulation
-Provide tactile stimulation
-Releasing stress

Another advantage of most art activities is that they are portable and can be done almost anywhere.

Art encourages self-expression and increases self-awareness.

Many of us struggle with thoughts or words that we cannot or don’t want to speak aloud. Art allows us to express ourselves safely. Whether in a therapeutic setting or at home at the dining room table, creative self-expression helps people connect with experiences and emotions in a healthy, rewarding way.
When we go into creative mode, we can often discover new things about ourselves. In art therapy sessions, a popular exercise is to have clients draw with their non-dominant hands or make a postcard that they would never send. Through activities such as these, individuals gain an increased sense of self-awareness. Many times it’s easier to understand and identify with feelings and experiences when we’re focused on a creative activity.

Art and mindfulness

Engaging in creative activities can also boost mindfulness. Mindfulness is the ability to stay present and in tune with your body’s emotions, thoughts, and sensations. When we practice mindfulness, we can learn to recognize and identify painful and difficult emotions. Mindfulness also helps you learn how to accept those feelings and let go of them.
Whether it’s drawing, painting, doodling, or creating a sculpture- creating something allows you to give yourself a break from uncontrollable, unwanted thoughts and engage in an activity that you have control over. When you’re creating art, you get to decide what to make, what colors you’ll use, how big it will be, and all the other details that go into it.
You don’t have to attend art therapy sessions to enjoy some of its benefits. Here some art therapy activities that you can try at home:

-Draw or paint outside.
-Paint to music.
-Put together an art journal.
-Make a drawing related to a quote you like.
-Take photographs of things you think are beautiful.
-Create a motivational collage.
-Use natural materials such as leaves, sticks, dirt, and clay.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of PTSD, and it’s affecting your ability to function day to day, don’t hesitate to seek help. Call Serene Health at 844-737-3638 or visit us at to book an appointment.