Painting Techniques to Heal Your Mind, Body and Soul
Of course, you know that having a hobby is essential to keeping your sanity, but you might not have known that your daily painting session is a great way to de-stress. In fact, clinical art therapy is a form of therapeutic discipline used by specialists across the world to help patients young and old work through daily battles with anxiety, depression, OCD, schizophrenia, autism, and other disorders ranging from mild stress to serious trauma. If you’re looking for legitimate sources to check these findings, check out the AATA (American Art Therapy Association) or one of many licensed Art Therapists around the world. There is such a thing as an ART Rx museum that researchers (and many patients) trust to ease physical pain. Most commonly, art therapy is used to reduce stress hormones in the brain to help you (and your psyche) function more efficiently.
Did you hear that? Painting can actually help you de-stress. If you think about it, it's like a double down on your favorite pastime: you get to burn time, make beautiful art, all while you’re healing your mind. Even if your daily battle isn’t intense enough to employ the help of a medical professional, you can use therapeutic painting tactics in the comfort of your own home to help you manage your stressors, improve focus, and add positive value to your everyday life.
There are many outlets for using painting as therapy, meaning you can try different styles to find one that works for you. Although the list is virtually endless, this book is going to walk you through some of the easiest and most creative ways to help you manage emotions and get in touch with your true feelings. While the main benefit is helping you manage your stressors, you may be impressed with how far these methods can push you from your comfort zone, helping you create mindful masterpieces like never before.
Try Painting in the Dark
If you’re doing your work in the same old place every time, it can start to feel mundane, which means even your hobby can really start to bog you down. Changing your art environment can help you center in on your work and evoke a whole new set of feelings and emotions, sometimes by blocking out other senses and emotions we normally would have experienced.
For instance, try painting in the dark. Darkness takes some of your usual sensory perceptions away, reducing the amount of instant criticism you put on your work. While painting in the dark, think of it like artful meditation. Paint with the intent to let loose of the judgement and criticism placed on us in the light. Plus, darkness boosts your other senses and stimulates the pituitary and pineal glands, which can help ease tension, reduce headaches, increase focus, and has other benefits for your mind and body. Pay attention to the smooth flow of the wet brush on paper, the texture of the paper, and be happy with your final product because it was made in peace. Other ideas for changing your environment include listening to music, painting in the park, or working with a group of friends.
Paint to Help Heal a Loss in Your Life
Losing someone or something you love is hard, and learning healthy ways to deal with grief is harder. Art therapy is commonly used to help people deal with grief. Cut out any unhealthy coping mechanism and try painting your loss instead, whether it be a close family member or a pet. Painting this loss and making it something solid and tangible can help your mind and soul process it. Sometimes painting a loved one can help you feel close to them again, or at least give you some reflection time on the good memories you have.
Research and Paint Your Own Mandala
Mandalas are widely regarded by different religions and philosophical followings as a kind of representation of life itself. Some believe that the mandala represents creation, since its circular, symmetric composition closely resembles the world around us on a molecular level.
Mandalas can be a direct representation of the self, which makes them a perfect outlet for art therapy. Start with an inner circle and then slowly fill in symmetrical designs and patterns, eventually expanding your circle to create a large, symmetrical shape. Use colors that you relate to, or colors that represent how you feel. Try combining bold colors with pastels and thick, bold lines with fragile patterns.
Get Closer to Nature with Rock Painting Therapy
Rock painting therapy is another popular form of art therapy that is widely regarded as a great way to get in touch with your emotions and improve your mental health. This type of painting therapy is a double feature because it gets your close to nature and allows you to paint out your feelings and stressors. The journey to collect rocks should not be taken lightly. Get outside and search far and wide for rocks, stones, and pebbles that catch your eye. These rocks should resemble your feelings in size, texture, or color. The sunshine alone is proven to help improve symptoms of depression and anxiety, but combing the technique with art therapy methods is a great way to heal your mind.
Once you’ve chosen your rocks, use colors, textures, patterns, and shapes to emphasize your emotions. Perhaps you’ve found a rock representing an emotion you would like to change. Try redesigning the rock to resemble the emotion you would like to create or channel. Do so mindfully and you will simultaneously understand how to make the change in your life as well.
Ascend with Abstract Art
Abstract art can seem a little confusing at first since there are no rules to what you can and can’t do. Of course, that is the best recipe for a little rest and relaxation. Abstract art offers an outlet for releasing any emotion and can be great for personal reflection. If you’re having trouble deciding how you truly feel, what emotions you’re experiencing, or what path to take, abstract art is a great way to do a little soul searching. Try starting with simple shapes, straight lines, or small patterns to get you started.
Similarly to painting in the dark, the absence of a particular “thing” or object in abstract art allows you to really lend your attention to the color, texture, and feel of the paint.
Try a Painting a Day
There are several studies that suggest that dedicating 30 minutes a day to a hobby reduce the levels of cortisol (stress hormone) in the body. If you’re having trouble dedicating to yourself or looking for inspiration, try to make a point to do “a painting a day.” It doesn’t have to be extravagant to be effective, either. You could simply spend thirty minutes constructing a small painting or drawing every day and throw it away if you’d like. This type of consistency can help establish a sense of routine, improve self-care, and give you a bit of reflection time every day to help cut out unnecessary stressors.
If you’re feeling frisky or really need a serious art getaway to help you soothe the soul, try using some of the previous methods for your “painting a day” challenge. You may be surprised at how immediately it changes your state of find and fights off stress to consciously create these mini masterpieces.
Draw or Paint Your Emotions
Painting your emotions is a common form of art therapy used to help the painter feel more in touch with their emotions and feelings. This is especially helpful if you are feeling confused or weighed down by an overflow of emotions. Try choosing colors based on how you feel (you may need to use the color chart above) and then just release the feelings you have on canvas. This could range from delicate scenery to something a straightforward and basic as angry, red scribbles.
Go Big, Really Big
If you usually paint on small or medium paper or canvas, try switching it up and painting something massive. Consider painting a mural on a wall in your house, or if you want something a little less permanent, hang up an old sheet and go to town.
When painting a large surface, use your entire body to paint. Experiment with different movements, flicking your wrist, swiping your entire arm, or twisting your body at the hips to get different strokes and textures. Stretch all the way up to the top and then bend low to the ground. Make continuous brush strokes and small jots. Utilizing your entire body is a great way to relieve stress and bring your body and mind together to function as one.