art journaling to manage stress

Managing stress and anxiety: How art journaling can protect your mental health

The main purpose of art journaling is not to be pleasing to the eye but to let you express yourself in a way that makes you ‘you’. The process of engagement is more important than the result.
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Life isn’t easy. You have to face numerous challenges in the journey of life. Sometimes you may come across a stumbling block that may be difficult to overcome, which can add to your daily stress and increase anxiety. It is therefore of utmost importance to stay on top of your mental health.

A good way to do that is to start an art journal. An art journal, much like your normal journal, is a space for free expression of your thoughts, feelings or events. It is essentially a diary for anything you can think of through symbolic forms. There are no rules to art journaling—you don’t need to know how to draw, write well or worry about messing up techniques you have never attempted before. You just need to be you.

The essential point to remember is that the process of engagement is more important than the result. Its main purpose is not to be pleasing to the eye but to let you express yourself in a way that makes you ‘you.’ You don’t need to worry about the aesthetics—the images you draw may not be like the ones you had in mind. But that’s alright. As long as you are participating in the activity, you will benefit from it.

Also, you don’t need much to start an art journal. Simple art materials and a willingness to play with them are enough. By engaging in this activity, you can de-stress, get things off your chest and even figure out what’s bothering you. Keeping at it for a while will ensure you become more creative, allowing your mind to be free.

If the concept has made you curious, then read on to know how art journaling can help you manage your stress and anxiety.

Helps explore feelings

Art journaling can be a great source of comfort for someone dealing with complicated emotions. Oftentimes, complex feelings such as sadness or anger cannot be expressed in words. This habit can give you a healthy outlet for such expressions. As you create art, you open up a space of exploration of your feelings, which in turn helps you recognise troubling emotions. Consequently, you learn to let go of whatever it is that is weighing you down, helping you relax your mind and body.

Acts as a form of self-care

From boosting your self-esteem, providing you with a safe channel to express your emotions to giving you a sense of control over what you want, art journaling acts as a form of self-care. During the process of art journaling, you take yourself on a journey of self-discovery that helps you get rid of the emotional roadblocks on your path and improves your communication with yourself. As Pablo Picasso once said, “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” Art journaling helps you do just that. By indulging in this habit, you are taking a step towards letting go of all the negative feelings stored inside you.

Helps gain clarity

Another important benefit of art journaling is it helps you gain clarity. When you express your feelings using colour, texture, words et cetera, you get a better understanding of your emotions. You can make out which thoughts are troublesome and which make you happy. This helps you uncover aspects of your life that you may not have noticed before.

Takes the mind off things

Life can be pretty hectic. Besides work, there are tons of things you do in a day,  and handling them can be overwhelming at times. Something as simple as gathering your thoughts feels difficult on some days. It’s important to take your mind off things from time to time. This is where art journaling comes into the picture.

When you are focused on creating art, you stop ruminating about the problems in your life. Momentarily at least! Practising this exercise regularly can help you express your inner thoughts and feelings calmly. After a while, you’ll be able to find solutions to the issues bothering you.

Boosts creativity and reduces stress

Art journaling is a visual diary—it’s a place to record your thoughts, memories and emotions through words, arts and images. As there are no hard and fast rules to maintaining this form of a journal, you have all the freedom to use your reservoir of creative energy. This means you can express your emotions in the manner you deem fit. Whether you draw, colour or write, when you allow your mind to be free, you take a step towards minimising stress and anxiety.

A recent study called Creative Arts Interventions for Stress Management and Prevention found that “creative arts therapies or art interventions are an innovative way to prevent stress and improve stress management.” So, if you are looking for ways to eliminate stress from your life in a creative way, start art journaling right away.

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