Feeling Anxious? Drawing Can Help You Cope

Feeling anxious or stressed this year? We’re not shocked, we’d be more surprised if you weren’t. Why? Well…vaguely gestures around.

As we all know, last year was unprecedented, to say the least. A flaming trash fire, some might say. Between coronavirus, celebrity deaths, and forced long-distance friendships, it definitely wasn’t the year any of us pictured. We also had to get used to iso (classic move by us Aussies, shortening the word) and adapting to wearing face masks…and the constantly changing mandates, rules and regulations that came with them.

So, on New Years, we pinned our hope that 2021 would somehow turn out better than the last year, even though we’re uh, still waiting on a vaccine. And then came a riot at the Capitol. And the multiple allegations against Armie Hammer.

There are a plethora of options to turn to if you’re feeling that way: From yoga to meditation, stress-relieving foods to supplements. The latest suggestion for coping with anxiety? Art therapy. Or more specifically, drawing.

Yep, something you did as a kid is now a way to cope with your adult mental health. If you’ve ever caught yourself doodling away during a meeting, a phone call, or maybe just drawing some random shapes when you’re bored, you’ve already, unknowingly, partaken in it.

In fact, both university professors and art therapists say that creative expression could help you experience a full nights sleep — something we all lack at some point or another.

Margaret Sands-Goldstein, an adjunct professor for the Wayne State University art therapy graduate program, said, “It allows for exploring one’s thoughts and feelings, organizing your thoughts and feelings about what is happening in your life or things that you’d like to work on or change.”

In addition to this, “Studies have been done where they’ve looked at people’s brains and found that colouring does the same things to someone’s brain that meditation does,” elaborated Sands-Goldstein. Research also backs this up, finding that art therapy improves the mental health of people experiencing depression, anxiety, trauma, stress, and self-esteem. Healthline also says it can interrupt rumination and helps you “find your flow”.

Worried you’re not a good enough artist? It can be as simple as doodling shapes, waves,  or swirls. If you’re more artistically inclined, feel free to take out your sketchbook, or a roll of butchers paper for a larger design. For those of us who aren’t as artistically inclined (guilty) — we’re free to get a colouring book, or a printout from the web, and just colour in.

And the best thing is, it doesn’t have to be perfect — there are no mistakes to be made when doing it wholly for your brain.

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