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    How Art And Drawing Can Combat Stress

    This week’s blog looks at some of the health benefits and reduction of stress levels to be gained from drawing and painting.  Many thanks to Hassan Khan for this guest blog.

    combat stress with art therapy

    Long tailed tits painting in progress


    Going through a lot of stress? Feeling as if your adrenaline levels are soaring?

    Your pulse is accelerating and this unbearable headache is killing you. In other words, you are observing every symptom of extreme anxiety in your body.  No medicine or meditation is helping you in relieving the stress.  Circular breathing is also not a magic bullet. In these circumstances, you should adopt an alternative stress relieving technique to help you in combating this monstrous stress.

    A lot of research has been conducted in this field. There are a number of strategies that can be used to get rid of stress in your life.  One of them is “Art Therapy.”

    Studies have shown that art therapy is a useful technique to fight stress.  Positive results of art therapy among cancer patients are evidence that drawing or visual art helps produce a positive impact. Even though exercise, enough sleep and rest are also helpful methods; art has its own benefits.

    combat stress through art hawthorn berries

    Hawthorn berries.  For a step by step guide, click here.

    Let’s explore Art Therapy.

    What is art therapy?

    Art therapy has significant implications in combating stress because everyone feels joyful while drawing. I am sure you used to doodle on the margins of papers in your childhood. Just imagine how happy and accomplished you used to feel at that time. Likewise, when you transfer your thoughts or feelings to the paper and get in touch with your creativity, you feel happy.

    Mallard duck Anas platyrhynchos natural history illustration by Lizzie Harper
    Mallard duckling Anas platyrhynchos


    You don’t have to be an expert artist to do this. Drawing is a valuable and healthy past time for individuals of all ages.

    What are the benefits of art therapy?

    You all know what stress can do to you both mentally and physically. Chronic stress will harm your body systems, making you weak and vulnerable to diseases. However, clinical art therapy is a powerful and useful tool that can help you in fighting stress. There are many ways in which the act of drawing different things can reduce your stress level.

    We will explain some of them in detail below:


    When you are stressed, you want to keep your mind distracted from the thoughts that are bothering you. You do not want to think about it anymore. In such situations, you can take help from drawing and art. As long as you are drawing something, your mind will be focused on its perfect completion. It will be almost impossible for you to think about your troubles during that time. In this way, your stress level will reduce and you will get an effective  distraction.

    Sanderling Calidris alba natural history illustration by Lizzie Harper
    Sanderling Calidris alba


    Meditative State

    When you are drawing something, you are so lost in it that it resembles being in a state of meditation. This level of dedication is a very healthy sign in the fight against stress. It benefits you and lessens the intensity of your tensions and problems. Your attention will be towards the color schemes and form of the drawing. Thus, you will forget about your worries. Even if this only happens for a few minutes, it helps.

    Sphagnum moss


    Art and drawing can be the perfect hobby. They give you the freedom to express what you are feeling. If you are feeling sad or happy about something, just throw it on the paper. Your heart will get rid of the unnecessary burden of emotions and you will feel light. This hobby will help you massively in fighting stress.  If you choose to take up botanical illustration you might also learn about botany, another hobby that may help combat stress.

    drawing at the botanic gardens

    Students enjoying drawing flowers


    When you engage yourself in activities like making drawings and creating artworks, you are taking time out for self-care. You can only fight stress if you are taking care of yourself. Self-care means giving importance to yourself. If you are feeling stressed, take some time out and make drawings or sculptures. This gives you the strength and motivation to fight stress by enhancing your willpower.

    composite flowers

    Student’s painting.  For details on Lizzie’s art classes click here

    Visual Pleasure

    Colors have this unique power to uplift your mood. The visual appeal of colors and their combinations with other shades can brighten up your day. Bright colors have a warm effect on your mind. Similarly, neutral tones provide a soothing effect to eyes and mind. Making drawings and using color can be an effective therapy for stress management. Surround yourself with colors to avoid falling into the darkness of depression. The best way of bringing colors to your life is through artworks and drawings.

    Amethyst deceiver Laccaria amethystina fungus natural history illustration by Lizzie Harper
    Amethyst deceiver Laccaria amethystina


    When you are given a chance to express your feelings and speak from your heart, you feel relaxed.


    Similarly, drawing is another way of expressing and releasing your emotions. The difference is that you are expressing on paper. It will help knock down your stress levels and you will be able to tackle your problems with a determined mindset. You can also illustrate your issues in your creations. It is a way of fighting and overcoming your stress.

    Hence, drawing and art can help a person by fighting depression and stress. The effects produced by this stress-management strategy are quite beneficial and noticeable. It is up to you now whether you adopt this method or not.

    Do let us know about your feedback in the comment section, or email Hassan on hassanonline72@gmail.com.

    Study of pansy.  For more sketchbook studies click here


    1. I agree wholeheartedly with all aspects of this blog. I have just had a particularly stressful time and losing myself in a bit of drawing helped me to escape to another world. I am no stranger to anxiety and depression. Thankfully feeling a lot better these days. Drawing and painting plays big part in all of that 🙂

      1. Hiya Pat

        I know, its a funny thing how when you concentrate really hard you “lose” yourself. I’m lucky enough to get a bit of that most days, I have no doubt it’s very good for mental health. Gets you tired but fufilled, and very present. I’m glad such clouds aren’t a regular part of your life these days. Most people I know suffer from depression and anxiety on occasion, I just wish people were readier to talk about it, like you are. It’s a great thing to do.

        Thanks for the comment, and for reading!


    2. Hi Lizzie, I started watercolour painting about three years ago. I paint landscapes, flowers, leaves…Natural subjects. Having a busy day, I think that watercolour is the best technique: you don’t need an easel, when you are tired you can stop and re-wet your colours the day after. And water…water is relax, water carries the pigments if you paint in a loose style, and sometimes I need this way of painting. But I love the control of botanical painting, I love to observe nature, I think how reproduce muted colours, shadows…
      I have been waiting for the correct diagnosis for six months (taking so much cortisone for nothing) and painting saved my life from depression and bad toughts (cortisone enhances this state of mind). I think people must consider this, but not only painting…I think every artistic manual activity
      that concentrates thought on something else. My mother, my grandmother could knitting, crocheting…they did projects for the family or to embellish their house. So they did something useful, but relaxing and fun at the same time. My grandfather loved working wood. Now I know many men and above all women depressed, without a hobby and totally denied for manual activities.

      1. Hi Simonetta

        Im so glad you found painting helpful when you were poorly. I agree, it can definitely calm the mind in a way that medication may not be able to. And yes, the long waits when yorue trying to find out what the nature of your ailment is can definitely be helped by mindful distraction.

        Your point about people in the past (well, your family) finding the same solace from sewing, making, knitting…It’s a very real point and something Id not fully considered before. I agree entirely. I also think peopl without a creative outlet can sometimes find it a struglle to switch off. Which is why Im so glad you have your painting!

        Thanks for leaving such an interesting and insightful comment.

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    Lizzie Harper