The Importance Of Creativity: How Making Art Improves Mental Health

Jamie Hessian, Managing Editor, A & E

People enjoy creating art for numerous reasons: for their enjoyment, to feel the satisfaction of seeing a canvas come to life, or to express a concept or idea. But what about the psychological benefits of creating art? Art has shown to actually help reduce anxiety and help people to cope with mental illness. 

Art is often used as a treatment for patients battling mental health issues. Some programs even give patients time every day to make art. The creative process helps people to become aware of their emotions and learn how to deal with them. It it gives people time to slow down and take their mind off of their stress. Art therapy is one way for people to do this. They are able to create anything they want during their session while talking to an art therapist.

Naysha Stone, an art therapist at Prairie Care, describes how art therapy works: “A lot of the way people think is through images. While someone is making art during a session, the thoughts underneath in their brain tend to come forward that they might not be aware of. There are two different things happening. While you are making art, you are able to talk, but the art itself can also speak for you.” 

Art therapy is one way that people use art to cope and improve their mental health. However, it doesn’t have to be done in front of a therapist to yield successful results. Even taking a few minutes a day to be creative can help. 

“I spend the five minutes I have during passing time drawing. It helps me put my mind in a safe place and not have to think about all of the homework I have tonight,” explains Ellie Copeland, ‘20. “Just put anything on paper, take pencils and scribble all over it. I find that very therapeutic. It gets all the stress, frustration, and anger out, and I can take a breath.”

The act of creating ideas and releasing energy onto the paper helps people to uncover how they are feeling and put it into their art, which can be easier than putting it into words. The act of simply filling a canvas with paint can be so therapeutic.

When asked about why creativity is important, Stone explains, “Our brain is just another muscle in our body. It’s healthy for us to take breaks from having to use our left brain versus our right brain. You can do that with exercise, music, and fine art. Then you are using both sides of the brain, which is stress relieving.” 

Exercising your creativity helps you to relax and distracts you from the stress of everyday life. It allows people to think in a different way, which they don’t always get to do. School, work, and a daily agenda usually infiltrates our thoughts, causing us to be overwhelmed. Just like it is healthy to stand up and stretch every once in a while, it is healthy to exercise our creativity to step away from our thoughts.

The art you create doesn’t have to be good or even look the way you wanted it to. It is not about creating a masterpiece; it is about how you use the art to help you relax and express yourself. What matters is that you allow yourself to be creative and step out of your normal routine by making something new.