Drawing is proven to help with well-being, stress relief and anxiety reduction. Engaging in the arts – be it drawing, painting or pottery is growing in popularity as a way to improve your well-being.
The main aim of this blog is to look at how the simple act of drawing can help with your well-being and mindfulness. This is not about your artistic talent but about using pen drawing in a relaxed, fun way to help relieve levels of worry, stress and anxiety. It’s about the process of drawing, not the quality of art produced.
Why Drawing is an Accessible Method of Self-Care
Drawing with pen is one of the most accessible and affordable forms of art you can try. To get started all you need is paper and a black biro pen (or a specialist pen or a pencil if you prefer). You can scribble anywhere – from the kitchen table to a café. You can put pen to paper alone at home, with a group in a communal space, outside in a park with friends, virtually and in person. Even at a bus stop or on the train. Have a go at doodling next time you are listening to a confusing work or study webinar to calm yourself – it can help you focus and untangle complex subject matter.
How Can Drawing Reduce Stress?
You can just do pen drawing for fun but there is also plenty of research into the positive effects of drawing and how it is used in art therapy.
Drawing and art has been proven to reduce stress and cortisol levels & increase dopamine and therefore happiness.
Studies have shown that most people who try art as a form of therapy or stress relief have experienced significant reductions in their cortisol levels when doing so. Cortisol is the stress hormone. According to a study done for the journal Art Therapy, when cortisol levels were taken before and after participants engaged in 45 minutes of creating art, researchers found that 75% of the people involved had lowered cortisol levels after.
This research is also backed up by the Sage Neuroscience Centre:
“Studies that were done on art and active creativity’s impact on the brain show that dopamine levels often increased in patients who had newly creative outlets. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that often is low in patients with anxiety, depression, and excessive stress.”
How Does Drawing Help Mental Health?
When focusing on drawing it gives your mind a break from worries, anxieties or loneliness. You can get absorbed in the mark making and the process of drawing. If you do crafting of any sort – knitting, crocheting or embroidery – you may understand ‘the flow’ – when you are so caught up in something creative that you are fully focussed on that task. And therefore, are not thinking in depth about other things.
“Drawing — and other forms of art — can help you release stress and anxiety. You can draw at home to boost your imagination and creativity, be more mindful and grounded, and relieve anxious thoughts.” Psych Central
Drawing for Meditation
Pen drawing can be used as a form of mindfulness. You may struggle (like many) to empty your mind & meditate without any prompts, but when drawing it can feel like meditation and help you to be mindful.
Drawing is a great way to practice mindfulness and get more in tune with yourself and your emotions. Whether you know the direction you want to take or begin by aimlessly doodling, the creative process will help you deal with stressors in your life by bringing your attention to something new.
Get Outdoors and Draw
To boost wellness further, what could be better than getting outdoors and drawing the things around you. Breathe in the fresh air, admire the view, focus on some nearby blooms and put pen to paper. You don’t need a garden, just head to your nearby park or open space or sit out on your balcony and draw your pot plants.
Drawing brings out your creative side and boosts your imagination. As your creativity increases and as you improve, you will gain confidence and in turn this will help your wellbeing and self-esteem. Maybe you’ll move onto adding watercolours, pencils or colour in some other form onto your drawings. You can add pen work onto collages also.
Drawing to Increase Community Connections
Drawing can create a feeling of community. Art workshops, classes and courses can help you build your social connections. Getting involved in drawing and arts activities increases social interactions between participants as well as with the course leader, which helps to alleviate loneliness and boost a sense of belonging. With everyone focussed on drawing, it means also that conversations can be more relaxed and organic.