How art benefits our mental health.

How can both viewing and creating art act as a therapy, and benefit our mental health?

[Gifted] There are products within this post that have been gifted by London Wildflower Pottery kits. All opinions are my own. Please see the disclaimer for more information.

When discussing the many ways to improve our mental health, medication, counseling, and ‘think more positivity’ seems to be the go-to responses. As I’ve become more and more interested in the holistic side of health, I’ve come across many different therapies that replace the norm. This has been partially due to my own curiosity, but it’s also been fueled by my need to find something better. There’s got to be better treatments out there than the traditional medication and quick go-to CBT sessions, right?


Gifted|| London Wildflower Pottery Kits.

Before we talk about the heavy-duty part of this post I want to give a quick word to London Wildflower Pottery. I was kindly gifted one of their pottery kits to play around with during lockdown. Although I don’t consider myself a master potter, I always enjoyed this element of art when I was in school and even kept this hobby going prior to leaving university. But I let it fall by the wayside claiming that I had no time or talent. Fast forward a number of years, a breakdown and COVID, and suddenly I have all the time in the world!

London Wildflower Pottery provides a range of products including the pottery kit featured above. Kits come with all the necessary equipment needed to get started, and you’re even provided with a handy manual that explains all the different tools and gives you some ideas of where to start.

I’ve already created several small pieces which have ultimately either fallen victim to my youngest cat or have re-hydrated and morphed into something else entirely.

You can grab your own kit here and I’d also highly recommend following them on Instagram for regular updates.

Image by London Wildflower Pottery.

The benefits of art as therapy.

ONE. Relieves stress and mental exhaustion.

Creating art by painting, drawing, sketching, sculpting, photography, scrapbooking, writing, bullet journals, and even just by colouring are all relaxing and rewarding activities.

Evidence suggests that we carry over 60,000 thoughts in our heads on a daily basis. That’s a lot, and what’s more is that if you suffer from mental illness, the majority of these thoughts are likely to be self-deprecating. Some might even be harmful to us or others around us.

Art, whether creating it or just looking at it, can serve as a distraction and help our brains relax. When you get ‘into the zone’ while painting or drawing you fall into a meditative-like state where all your focus is on just one thing; Creating!

Even spending time viewing art has its benefits. Reading, for example, allows us to escape. The art we choose to hang on our walls, or in galleries serve as a welcome escape from the mundane world. Why look at cars passing your house when you have a beautiful painting above your fireplace? There’s no competition.

In fact, science has suggested that viewing art gives us the same pleasure as falling in love.

TWO. Encourages creative thinking.

Art encourages us to think more creatively both when creating and viewing art. Although the ‘answers‘ may not be as clear cut as math it encourages us to use our creative brain in order to come up with answers and solutions ourselves, with no ‘right‘ answer set in stone.

Looking at art in a gallery doesn’t tell us how to think or what to feel, nor does listening to music or reading a book. You’re left to interpret it as you go, free to make up your own mind.

THREE. Boosts self-esteem.

For those who create art in any form, it injects confidence and a sense of accomplishment. Every little problem you solve, every colour or word or stitch your connect together is using your creative brain to make something beautiful.

That’s why it’s encouraging to put your children’s art on the fridge. You’re showing them that you’re proud and that they did a great job, even if all they did was draw a stick man.

FOUR. Encourages us to communicate emotions.

Art can become a way for us to communicate difficult thoughts and feelings that may seem too complex for us to talk about. With art, we can focus on colours, figures, and words which are easier displayed in an artistic manner than by speaking alone.

FIVE. Increases feelings of empathy.

Often when looking at a painting, listening to a song or reading a story we can feel the emotion behind it, almost as if we were inside that person’s head. It can act as a huge relief for not only the artist but also the viewer or listener as we can be made feel understood and less alone in our own battles.

A study on the educational value of field trips found that children who visited museums reported to feelings of empathy for those who lived before them and expressed more tolerance to those people who may be different from them.

“We find that students learn quite a lot. In particular, enriching field trips contribute to the development of students into civilized young men and women who possess more knowledge about art, have stronger critical-thinking skills, exhibit increased historical empathy, display higher levels of tolerance, and have a greater taste for consuming art and culture.”

Jay P. Greene, Brain Kisida & Daniel H. Bowen

SIX. Eases the burden of chronic health conditions.

A study found that artistic expression produced significantly positive health effects, both physical and mental.

“Through creativity and imagination, we find our identity and our reservoir of healing. The more we understand the relationship between creative expression and healing, the more we will discover the healing power of the arts.”

The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health: A Review of Current Literature,2010.

They found that art and music affected patients in these ways.

  • Allows patients to ‘forget about their illnesses’ while allowing them to focus on the more positive aspects of life.
  • Creating art allows patients to maintain their own identity, and not this ‘new identity’ with an illness.
  • Creating art promoted a sense of achievement among patients.
  • Patients were better able to express their feelings.
  • Art reduced overall stress levels by lowering cortisol.
SEVEN. Increases the production of dopamine.

According to Gutman.SA, artistic hobbies including sewing, drawing, painting, writing, DIY, knitting, etc, increase the dopamine production in our brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter and includes several different pathways, one of which focuses on motivation and reward-motivated behaviour.

Creating art, and even viewing it, can promote a positive response in the brain making us feel more focused and preparing us for learning.

“Low levels of dopamine in the body can contribute to a plethora of health problems, including depression, a lack of interest in life, fatigue, mood swings, poor memory, and impulsive behavior, just to name a few. In fact, decreased levels of dopamine may even lead to bone loss.”

Vivian Goldschmidt, MA


The benefits of art in any form are extensive and therefore difficult to fit into just one list. As someone who not only enjoys art but creates it in both writing and sketching, I can only vow for myself when I say I feel accomplished and more fulfilled once a piece of art is created. Even if I hate that piece of art, the act of creating it can put me into a relaxed and focused state.

Do you enjoy art? Have you ever considered or tried art therapy?

151 comments

  1. So agree on this. i make sure that I still journal, color, do my diamond painting to make sure that I still have something that I enjoy.

  2. Hi Nyxie, This is an absolutely fantastic post and I think it’s probably the missing piece for me on managing my mental health! I’ve been working on other things, but neglecting my creative side a bit lately, and it shows. Thank you for such a well-researched and helpful blog post! Kate x

  3. I find myself painting the house to relax, which I suppose can also be classed as being creative.
    Thank you so much for popping in and reading 🙂

  4. I’m now very good with art but I keep trying and always do something crafty with my little boy. Even small things are helping to relieve stress

  5. I love any type of art, I just wish I could indulge in them a bit more. One of my favourite sayings is, “art should make the comfortable uncomfortable, and comfort the uncomfortable”. No idea who said it.

  6. The arts valuable role in mental health is being recognised
    It can help to boost confidence and make us feel more engaged and resilient. Besides these benefits, art engagement also alleviates anxiety, depression and stress.

  7. I’ve always liked to tinker with some form of art once in a while. It helps me to relax my mind and just enjoy time without pressure. I agree that it has many benefits to a person including mental wellness.

  8. I’ve been having anxiety attacks the past two days. I think I should consider doing something artistic.

  9. oh i can’t agree more with you, Art encourages creative thinking and therefore helps a lot keeping the person positive…

  10. Your art is amazing. I agree that being creative really helps me center myself and do better as a whole. I really enjoy creating, it is such a nice outlet.

  11. I think tapping into one’s creative side can definitely benefit our mental health! I know it has helped me personally.

  12. I saw those pottery kits and it made me realise that I have not done any work with pottery for many years. Just amazing how images can trigger memories and experiences around art.

  13. As always, wonderful reading your informative post. Many years ago I had done a story (as a journalist) on drama therapy for mental healing. A few theatre artists used to conduct the sessions.

  14. Indeed this blog post is deep and meaningful..do agree with every point..art is really very healing and amazing…glad to know more about this…i knew something about the benefits of art but this was completely new for me to know that art can also have benefits for our mental health..Thanks for sharing…

  15. I don’t think there’s any doubt that art has massive mental health benefits – which is why it’s such good news that the Government is stepping in to help the arts. Great post, lots of alternatives if you’re not a talented drawer (ie, me!) Lisa

  16. Amazing post! I love the idea that art therapy is not only something enjoyable to do but also it helps our mental health. I am not that artistic but I love photography and music!

  17. I believe it is very true that art offers concrete, important help in the care and help of those suffering from mental problems. It promotes health, creativity is always a good medicine.

  18. I used to charcoal draw all of the time and it was very therapeutic for me. Now I don’t do it as much because I am so busy. I really need to get back to doing that! I love that art is outlet for my emotions and improves my creative flow. I miss it so much. Thanks for sharing xxx

  19. I love this post. One of my go-to activities in my down time is to pick up a sketch book and draw (or more like doodle) or grab a colouring book. I feel so much better when I’m being creative.

  20. Now I know why I’m so much more at peace after I work on a new piece of art. I love how I feel when I’m creating. Thank you for sharing.

  21. I love making art and never even considered how it could be benefiting my mental health let alone others. I’m super excited to go forward to work on my positive pieces. Thanks so much for the idea, this is a great post!

  22. Thank you for linking me your post on crafting/art therapy! Can’t wait to read it. Also thank you very much for stopping by dear, it’s always a pleasure.

  23. I wasn’t aware of the facts around dopamine as well. I was both surprised there was any research at all and very appreciative of it. Thank you for reading 🙂

  24. Thank you so much for your beautiful comment. I used to draw and paint with my Granny all the time, and memories like that make me smile.

  25. I love this post! I have always found art and creativity so good for my mental health. When I focus on a project, I feel much calmer and I can forget about my worries for a while. I agree, it’s such a great way to boost self esteem and feel proud of your creations as well. Lovely post Nyxie, also Lena’s art is beautiful, she is super talented! Thank you for sharing! <3 xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

  26. I have always found peace in art. I find art galleries really relaxing and it always makes me intrigued thinking about the artist who painted them and what their lives are/were like. I’m a creative person too but I’ve not really painted myself. I’m more into crafts, baking, writing etc. Thanks for sharing x

  27. I love this! Art therapy is so important. I can remember the activities we did in my son’s therapy sessions. I looked forward to it every week, it was so grounding and just reached another level of my mindfulness. It soothes my soul & made me happy.

  28. This is such a wonderful post and something I believe should be promoted more often. For as long as I can remember I’ve always been a very creative person. Around 7 years ago I started suffering with my mental health and I find creating art such a soothing and relaxing thing to do to help me feel better!
    Thank you for sharing xx

  29. I knew art could definitely help with mental health but I didn’t realize the concrete facts like boosting levels of dopamine, etc. So that’s wonderful to know!! I love art so much, it’s seriously so relaxing and definitely helps me feel inspired and content ????

    Geraldine |

  30. Hello darling, what a wonderful post. I do think that creative outlets are important for expressing feelings, after all sometimes words are not enough to describe how we feel. I respect the fact that you took time to research the topic and included some psychological evidence to prove your points, well done!
    Laura / https://www.laustworld.com

  31. As a bit of an introvert, a good piece of art really improves my mental state. Wish I had more time to admire though!

  32. I was a mental health worker for a very long time and headed a workshop for women and we always had a huge turn out when it came to anything art related. It really does fill people with joy and uncharted energy as well as taking your focus off things you sometimes can’t control and putting it on something tangible that you can, like painting or music.

  33. I completely agree that this is a great therapy. I myself love reading to turn off my overactive brain. But, I find comfort in doodles and painting as well. Anything that slows down the thoughts is extremely helpful!!

  34. Beautiful piece, it encourages me to get back to the paintings I’ve had on the back burner. Thanks for taking the time to write it.

  35. Thanks for sharing. I will send your blog post to anyone who dare say that art and being creative doesn’t matter.

  36. I think it is easy to forget how being artisit and creative can help us! Beautiful artwork and brilliant article outlining all the fantastic benefits.
    Thank you for shairng with us.
    Alyssa
    THESACREDSPACEAP.COM