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. I totally agree! whenever im angry or upset i turn to drawing or painting. it helps calm me down and think more clearly!

  17. 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!

  18. 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.

  19. 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

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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!

  23. 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.

  24. 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 🙂

  25. 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.

  26. 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

  27. 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

  28. 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.

  29. 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

  30. 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 |

  31. 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

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

  33. 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.

  34. 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!!

  35. 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.

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

  37. 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

  38. Thank you for stopping by and reading. I’ve dabbled in various types of art throughout my life and when I get stressed I always forget about it. Everytime I have stepped back from art I’ve hit rock bottom, so clearly I need it to maintain some sort of balance.

  39. I’ve never tried art therapy personally. They are quite hard to come by if I’m honest, so I just do my own art therapy at home using paint by numbers and knitting. I even consider writing to be therapy.

  40. My aunt does art therapy and I’d love to try it! Do you have any advice on where to find an art therapist? Right now I just do those adult coloring books (when I can find time! Ah!)

  41. So glad you touched on benefits for chronic illnesses as well! Art is so endless and unique that I use it in substance use and mental health therapy groups. I could use the same activity and produce different results due to the individuals participating

  42. This is such a great post. Any form of art is a great way to improve your MH. As a person who has been diagnose with depresion and anxiety when I was 15 I know that music, dancing and painting has helped me so much over the years. Thanks.

  43. I loved reading this post. As someone who struggles from mental health issues, it’s nice to see other strategies explained rather than just throwing medication into the mix. Thanks for this!

  44. Your site is looking so different, I love it!

    The bits you’ve been sent are so pretty.

    Have you seen the art journal’s you can get, I’m not artistic at all but I know my partner would love it so I’m getting him one for Christmas.

    A great way to incorporate art in to each day x

  45. Music got me through my teens, then writing poetry got my through my 20s, so I’m definitely a believer in Art Therapy!

  46. I love this! My dad uses art as therapy! He’s always painting or drawing. Thanks for sharing!

  47. Love this article! Art really can bring out so much beauty and positivity…especially creating something unique and hand made! 60,000 thoughts daily….wow, that is incredible!

  48. Excellent post, I have never thought in this way. Yes, this is absolutely correct, when we are doing any artwork we unconsciously falls into state of meditation. After all meditation is not something different, it’s an art of doing things with peak concentration

  49. Your site is lovely and the advise is great. Art is a wonderful stress reliever!

  50. I love this. I always like to draw and paint when I’m feeling stressed!

  51. Because you don’t often have the words art can help significantly. I’ve known many people who are unable to express how they feel outwardly without the use of art as a communicator. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Take some time out, Ruth, and allow yourself to paint by numbers, draw or even knit/crochet. It’s all go the same effect on our minds 🙂

  52. I agree. I really need to start allocating time to allow me to create as well, but then I spend most of my time writing, so am I already creating?

  53. I love colouring while I’m watching TV or knitting. I’ve recently sourced a small loom so I’ll have to start that again soon. Thank you for stopping by and commenting, it’s much appreciated 😀

  54. Your art is amazing and you’ve inspired me to maybe consider creating my own again. I used to be rather good at sketching and drawing but gave up because it was never perfect. Art isn’t about being perfect, it’s about creating and allowing your mind to be free! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to review your work and I’ll continue to do so in the future!

    – Nyxie

  55. This is deeply beautiful. I know during my low times drawing was rather helpful. ^_^

  56. Thank you for stopping by Roger. It takes me a while to get into it all but when I do my creativity is flowing and I feel so much better. In the ZONE, as they call it!

    The dopamin concept is amazing to me! How can simply looking at or creating art have such a powerful influence on our brains!?

  57. Thank you so much for visiting. I would love to write something on that topic as it’s something close to my heart due to my late grandfather, but I’m not an expert and would feel very uncomfortable acting as such. I would be interested to hear what you have to say.

  58. Thanks for sharing – loved the post. I am particularity interested in the mental health for cancer patients after their treatment has finished. Usually an ignored subject. Your blog is spot on! Thanks again.

  59. Awesome post! I definitely relate to everything in this post. I often feel that I’m at my best when I’m creating; with my mind’s attention directed so singularly on a particular subject. While in that mode, my mind doesn’t wander to the parts of my life that could be troubling me or not serving me well. I was unaware of the dopamine component; makes sense!

    Thanks for sharing.

    Roger

  60. Wow!! thank you for the amazing review.

    And this article is SO real!!

    –> ‘Art, whether creating it or just looking at it, can serve as a distraction and help our brains relax’

    This bit is SO true for me – It really is a distraction for me and that’s why I love doing art. Thanks so much for writing this article and explaining the benefits of art to our health. Have bookmarked this!

    -Lena

    http://www.lenasnotebook.co.uk

  61. I haven’t tried art therapy, but I have got a couple of ‘adult colouring books’ and pens which I enjoy sitting down with from time to time. They really get you to just focus on the colouring and make a great alternative to just watching TV!

  62. I have to agree. Theres just something about making art that really helps relax and soothe you

  63. I love the idea of art therapy. We journal and write as therapy. To me creating art has the same helpful benefits. Great post.

  64. I’m so happy yall are able to keep connected with each other it really helps, too! Very pretty art work also!

  65. A lot of useful information about creating and viewing art. I should really try to make some more time to create some art. Had a lot of ideas but no follow through recently, and I could do with the dopamine boost

  66. I always loved the creative process within Art Therapy but fell down and became incredibly stressed when I was expected to explain what my art was representing or telling the group or listen to the groups interpretations and say if they were right about what I was feeling or thinking.

    Because I struggle with words, colours and shapes and using different media helped me to express exactly what was in my head….but I still didn’t have the words for it after creating it, it was just out and visible rather than hidden inside me.

  67. This is great! You’re right, art can come in so many forms! I love cross stitching for the same reasons. I can create something fun (working on a piece for my office right now) while relaxing and kicking back.

  68. They are truly beautiful. Lena is so talented and she’s actually inspired me to create my own art. Thank you for popping by and reading 🙂

  69. I love your little paintings and cards; the writing is beautiful and I love the positive messages on each one.

    Making art is a wonderful way to show emotions through colors and pictures, and it is definitely worth a try!

  70. Sewing, knitting, etc is certainly an art form. It’s very relaxing and my grandmother would have sewed right up until her recent passing. She loved it and found it was an excellent way of ‘resting’ without doing nothing.

  71. I have always loved sketching, drawing, writing and scrapbooking. It’s all something I got away from when I started blogging, and have only managed to keep up the writing side of things. I’ll definitely have to get back into it all now 🙂

  72. Great post! I think art therapy is incredibly underrated, it can work wonders for so many things as you’ve pointed out. I personally love scrapbooking as a way of keeping myself calm and enjoying a little time to myself. I just love the feeling of pride I get afterwards when I look back through with the knowledge that I did this myself, plus its such a lovely way to look back on your favourite memories. I still need to get myself one of those painting by number sets you mentioned in a previous post too! X

  73. One of the things I love about sewing is that it forces me to focus on the task at hand, and really slows my brain down. I don’t know if that’s a form of art, but I’ve experienced many of the pleasant effects you talked about here from doing it.

  74. Great post girl! I never actually put it together, that it really is a meditating like state you enter when you create…ive certainly felt it, but never had a name for it…thank you! I’ve tried to explain it to Pat a 100 times…that it’s not something you can just do-you can’t just jump into the mindset..its almost like your mind has to travel there..

    Perfect post lovey. Xo

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