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Finding Emotional Outlets Through Painting To Relieve Stress and Anxiety

Coming out of the stresses experienced the past couple of years, along with the uncertainty anxieties created in our minds, has heightened stress levels in people’s lives. Of course, some stress is to be expected. We live in a constantly overstimulated society with a lot of pressure to keep up socially, financially, and emotionally.

Keeping up with all the changes to our jobs, bills, family, friends, and what we consume for entertainment can become detrimental if we aren’t careful. In fact, too much long-term stress can negatively impact our wellbeing and, if left unmanaged, can have profound health implications.

The Worrisome Truth About Long Term Stress on Our Wellbeing

Stress can lead to serious long-term health issues if not appropriately managed. And the amount of stress we carry over time can have a severely debilitating effect on both our bodies and our brains. Some of the effects associated with long-term stress on our bodies and brains are: 

  • Difficulty focusing and lack of proper sleep
  • Anxiety, depression, and eating disorders 
  • Increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and raised blood pressure
  • Lowered immune response

Additionally, long-term diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, skin diseases, heart disease, and cognitive decline, including dementia, may have roots in severe long-term stress. Worse still, our quality of life and our relationships begin to sour as we let the effects of stress overcome our lives. It can become the dominant force in our lives and impact our mental health if we let it fester. 

Mental Health Is Crucial to Overall Well Being

As we’ve seen, stress can have severe health impacts, but one silent way it negatively impacts mental health. The correlation between mental health and wellbeing has long been established. Good mental health isn’t the absence of illness but is the state of overall well-being. Good mental health shows itself in:

  • Quality and enjoyment of life
  • Ability to handle and recover from adversity and stress
  • Being able to set and accomplish goals and objectives
  • Having the capacity to build and maintain positive relationships

Sometimes it can be obvious when an individual is depressed or suffering from poor mental health. However, other times, it may require a particular diagnosis or taking a depression test to see the need to establish more positive mental health practices. Maintaining positive mental health requires constant practice, such as finding calming, relaxing ways to decompress, whether through exercise or creative outlets.

Benefits of Exercise With Mental Health 

Exercise provides many benefits, ranging from strengthening the skeletal-muscular system, controlling appetite, managing weight, elevating moods, and alleviating negative emotions like anxiety and depression. This happens because, after exercise, the brain releases powerful mood-enhancing chemicals like dopamine in the brain that heighten and brighten moods. 

The Mental Health Benefits of Painting

Similarly, finding a creative outlet such as writing, music, and painting has numerous mental health benefits associated with those activities. Painting especially offers a variety of mental health benefits, which are even more important for persons of advanced age. 

Enhances Cognitive Thinking and Memory

Painting is a form of visual problem solving and enhances cognitive thinking by strengthening cell growth in the brain. Additionally, painting can improve memory as it requires the brain to focus on memory areas to represent an idea, thought, or emotion. 

A Form of Healthy Expression

Painting is a form of expression that serves as an outlet for the creator and viewer. In addition, the process of painting can help people work through thoughts and emotions in a safe space, transplanting those internal emotions onto the canvas, acting as a catharsis for people. Painting as a process is non-judgemental, allowing the creator room to explore, express, and grow. You don’t need to try and mimic Picasso or Van Gogh. Instead, you can simply paint rocks or canvas to find a positive outlet for your thoughts and emotions. 

Alleviates Emotional Pain

Chronic health problems and trauma can lead to negative emotions like stress, anxiety, depression, and pain. As painting represents emotional thought, it allows the individual to exercise those negative emotions, lower stress levels, and create calmer moods. 

Improves Moods

One other added benefit to painting is the improvement of moods. The act of painting becomes a way to relax and soothe, lowering stress, alleviating pain, and in the process, improving attitudes.  


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