How Art can Help You Cope with Stress and Anxiety

I am sure you will know or heard of at least one person who completely turned their life around after a bad experience. And often it’s something creative that made a difference to their mental health and helped them cope with stress and anxiety.

One of my friends is a thirty-something responsible mum who is bonkers about Lego. Lego is her passion and she has been known to build whole towns out of it. It’s her guilty pleasure, her ‘thing’. It makes her happy.

But she’s probably not the first person to step on the odd Lego brick first thing in the morning. And as we know that’s rather painful. But there could be an upside.

But how can stepping on some Lego be a good thing? I hear you ask.

I have this theory, which is partly based on seven years working as a Personal Coach, and on my own belief that sometimes bad things happen FOR you. And could be a bit of a wake up call for some people to take a good look at how their life is going, especially if they are a bit stressed out.

According to my theory, a bad experience could be your higher self trying to get your attention.

But what do we do when we hear that little voice? Completely ignore it of course … only to regret it later.

We’ve all done it! Until the next time, and the next time. Sometimes it can take a series of events to prompt us to stop and reflect.

When was the last time you got a big hint that something wasn’t quite right in your life?

When your subconscious mind thinks you need a bit of a nudge in a new direction or a big shove to get you to shift your arse and make some well overdue changes in your life, well…things just get a bit tough. And sometimes things get so unbelievably bad, that you might find yourself shouting at the sky “What do you want from me?! What Next?!” And I do believe that some people might label their experiences as bad luck.

All you really need to do is stop, take stock, slow down a bit and reflect on what your inner soul needs right now to give it a bit of tlc.

For many people life really is tough, they face insurmountable problems with finances, relationships, parents, children, health, the list is endless. I know, I’ve been there more than once.

But where does Art fit in?

I ended up getting back into art and creativity after my life got really REALLY stressful, to the point where I could not ignore it anymore. Something had to change before I became seriously ill. I was in a constant state of turmoil. Mind you, this had been going on for a while so it wasn’t an overnight decision to make a change. I hated my job, I had huge debts, my health was falling off a cliff. I was a mess. Bills were coming through the letter box like ticker tape. I was constantly anxious, worrying ALL THE TIME about my problems.

The stress and my deteriorating mental health was the catalyst I needed to really think about what I really wanted in my life.

Now I’ve never been a person who likes taking any kind of prescription medicine, and the last thing I wanted was to go to the Doctor. There were so many things going wrong at the same time I felt like I was lurching from one crisis to the next, day after day, after day.

But then, a friend of mine who is an Art Therapist suggested I paint about what was happening to me. I’d done art at school but had neglected art most of my adult life. Art was something I would do “some day”, it was something that was relatively easy for me, but I didn’t think it was that important. But I had a box of paints under the stairs so I dug them out and painted my first painting. I was instantly hooked. I immediately become more mindful, calmer and more centred.

AND the most amazing part of it was …


So I took up art again after a gap of 35 years and here I am blogging about it on my own website.

What are problems with your mental health trying to tell you?

Who hasn’t been stuck in a rut, ploughing a trough of misery so deep that they can’t see a way out?

It’s usually on that one morning when you’ve reached rock bottom that the Lego appears (or an upturned plug). You step on it and Wham! Instant Bad Mood. But the thing about pain is that it just might be your higher self shouting at you to shift your focus and DO something with your life.

Sometimes it might be a series of things that crop up one after another which does the trick. Perhaps it’s a chronic health condition, a failing relationship, a job you hate…

However I must say here, that of course there are some exceptions. You might be living the dream and stepped on an upturned plug or a nail only yesterday. As far as you are aware, there’s nothing major in your life that needs changing. Fair enough.

Therefore my theory has to be balanced with a bit of common sense.

But the pain could be an alarm call, a voice from the infinite.

If you recognise this scenario, ask yourself this – “What’s this pain trying to tell me? Why has it happened now? What am I NOT doing that I am avoiding that should be helping me move towards something more fulfilling”?

It’s your life, your destiny of course but who hasn’t at some point in their lives contemplated living a completely different existence, or FINALLY decided to improve the quality of their life by doing something creative. The thing is, that the problems won’t go away, you might still have massive challenges to deal with, but the difference is by taking up a creative hobby, you get some respite from it all for a few hours. You can SWITCH OFF. No drugs, no alcohol no artificial stuff required to help you get into the zone. In fact some artists I’ve heard have called art addictive – in a good and healthy way.

Your challenge then is to take some time out today, review what’s not working for you in your life.

If you’ve been toying with taking up art, learning to draw, pottery, embroidery, knitting what’s stopping you?

The benefits of doing something creative I can testify from personal experience are extremely beneficial.

Hours will go by when I am painting and during that time I do not ruminate or spend the time fretting over ‘stuff’. When I am sketching I am completely in the zone.

Art helps me to sleep better, gives me something to look forward to, and calms the inner chatter. It could do the same for you too if you give it a try. And who knows, when you are painting, you might find the solution to your problems.

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