Ways Sketching & Drawing Can Boost Your Mood

“The emotions are sometimes so strong that I work without knowing it. The strokes come like speech.” Vincent Van Gogh

Have you ever caught yourself scribbling on the corner of a page during a particularly stressful work meeting? Or perhaps you like to doodle when you’re on an important phone call? Well, you may not have realised it, but you were actually engaging in a simple form of art therapy, by using a creative outlet as a means of distraction during stressful situations.

Art therapy is a method of using creative outlets to treat psychological disorders and to improve mental health, and it is rooted in the idea that an expression of creativity can aid healing and mental well-being. Of course, art has been used as a means of self-expression and communication for as long as it has been in human existence, however the realisation of art being used for therapy was not formally introduced until the 1940s. During the discovery of this method, doctors noticed that patients struggling with mental illness often used a creative outlet to express themselves, which in turn led to the investigation of using art as a healing strategy and now it holds a crucial role in the therapeutic domain. But how is it that art has the ability to improve mental wellness?

In an effort to answer that question, a recent study published by Jennifer Drake in the August 2022 issue of Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts, evaluated and compared two popular theories. The first theory is that ‘drawing serve[s] as a way to vent emotions and thereby work[s] out conflicts and tensions’ and the second is that art ‘serves as a form of escape’. What Drake found is that though you might assume that creativity works by acting as a form of release by allowing individuals to express negative emotions, what was actually discovered is that art is a form of distraction. Ultimately, it allows individuals to focus on something else, other than negative emotions, which has been proven to be a very effective step in the journey towards improving mental wellness.

A constant state of anxiety in your day-to-day lives can lead to a relentless state of unease, and this can have knock-on effects on other aspects of your life. Though it is certainly no cure for mental illness, nor is it a replacement for medical or therapeutic guidance, art is still a great and accessible outlet for anyone that needs it. Drawing can aid in relaxation and stress relief and is a fantastic way to boost your mood if you are struggling with negative emotions. So, make sure you set aside a period of time, even if it is just 30 minutes, to focus on nothing else other than simply enjoying the act of creating.

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