In his book, Flourish, Martin Seligman – who is regarded by many as the father of positive psychology – maintains there are five critical elements that contribute to human psychological well-being: positive emotion, engagement, accomplishment, positive relationships and meaning. There are many ways that painting addresses these elements to make a positive impact on a person’s mental health, here are just a few:
Putting a paint brush to canvass is a relaxing activity that can eliminate negative thoughts and feelings. Scientific studies have shown that painting reduces stress and anxiety, prevents depression, normalizes blood pressure and supports the body’s immune system.
Every time you engage in a new activity, fresh connections are created between your brain cells. When you focus on the various aspects of painting – light, darkness, color, shading, shape, motion, body, distance and closeness, motion and rest – different parts of your brain are engaged. This heightens your attention to detail and increases your self-awareness. And when you are thinking more clearly, you are more resistant to stress.
It doesn’t have to be a Monet or a Picasso; be proud of what you produce! As the artist, you control the creative process so you can craft the colors and shapes however you choose to get the outcome that resides in your mind’s eye.
Turning a blank canvass into a piece of art provides a sense of accomplishment that can boost your self-esteem and give you more confidence in your ability to conquer new challenges. Plus, when you complete a painting, you have something tangible that you can enjoy and share with others.
Painting is an activity that draws people together – as a community of artists and observers. Painting with others can be inspiring and creates a sense of belonging that leads to connections and lasting relationships. If you’re looking for a fun, stress-free way to connect with family, friends and co-workers during the holidays, hosting a group painting party is a great way to plan some fun, quality time!
If speaking out and sharing your ideas verbally is challenging, painting provides an opportunity to express yourself. Painting allows you to create an image that is meaningful to you, based on your thoughts, your emotions and your vision. For some people, picking up a paint brush in art class or at a painting party represents the first time they have had the freedom and ability to create the world the way they see it.
Painting can have a positive impact on your mental health
Do you ever struggle with an overactive schedule? Does failing to meet high expectations leave you depressed? Does anxiety cause you to miss out on special occasions?
Painting has stress-reduction qualities that can benefit anyone. And you don’t need to be an artist to create a masterpiece. According to Kiersten Adkins, M.A., LPC, executive director of Pathway to Hope, benefiting from being creative means you allow yourself imperfections. The key is to give yourself the opportunity to see just what you will create and how good you really are.
“The environment created through Apple Pie Painting – in a familiar setting, with friends, family or co-workers – is inviting, relaxing and comfortable,” she said. “You don’t get the feeling that you’re in an environment where your work will be judged and you are encouraged to explore what you see to create something meaningful, based on the pattern you have chosen.”
Whether your medium of choice is finger paint, watercolor, acrylic or oils, painting can calm your mind, increase your self-esteem, help you to get in touch with your emotions and feelings, and create something that has meaning.
So, take a little time for yourself. Relax your mind. Pick up a brush. Crack open some paint. Visualize the possibilities.