It is a proven fact that painting can help you rest, manage anxiety, and reduce stress. But “I am not an artist”, you might object. According to science, you don’t have to be “an artist” to benefit from the stress-busting effects of painting. Bob Ross once said, “If you think that you can’t paint, you are not realizing how simple it is.” The fact is that if you focus on painting at any skill level, and you let it inspire you, you’ll be more relaxed regardless of the outcome.

People of all ages, regardless of their artistic experience, can experience lower levels of stress after art-making.

As you create a painting, you might find that now and then you experiment with something and it doesn’t work out as you hoped it would. You learn to accept that sometimes things don’t work out as you expect, but you carry on and do your best. Down the line, you’ll realize that when things in your life don’t happen as expected or when you have made a mistake, you can more easily recover and move on.

Even a few minutes can be sufficient to reduce stress levels. Painting is a “stress-buster,” a medium for therapy, and a way to reduce stress and anxiety. Working on a painting can take your mind off of whatever is stressing you, at least for the time being. It is difficult to contemplate the challenges you face when you are focused on making art. If you are still thinking about your problems while painting, you can incorporate them into your work. Once you have finished, you might have a clearer head with which to face your issues once more.

It is a creative instrument for expressing the feelings and emotions of a person. Painting is believed to be a great stress relief tool by many. Many therapists recommend art therapy for their patients who struggle with anxiety. If you are someone who is dealing with daily stress, then the answer to a more relaxed state of mind might lie in painting.

Who should try art therapy?

If you feel the pressures of stress and anxiety in your life, you should try art therapy. Painting, or creating any type of art, will give you an opportunity to slow down. Art therapy is known to boost the mental health of people who are dealing with stress and anxiety. In art therapy, the focus is on the process of making art, not the final result. The goal isn’t to become a world-renowned artist, although it might happen. Art therapy is about promoting insight and cultivate emotional resilience. You need nothing more than the willingness to try.

Painting can be a captivating (and healthy) escape from the stresses of everyday life. By merely thinking about the act of painting, you allow yourself to be invited into the beautiful world of art that detaches you from your daily stressors.

Let’s talk about the ways painting can be a relaxing activity, so you can use it as a tool to help you re-center, calm down, and give your mind a little break.

Relax Through Painting

We all need downtime in our lives. We sense that feeling of stress showing its ugly face. We feel it in our stomach through our throat. We feel it creeping into our brain, trying to wave it away as we start the next load of laundry, sneak in another phone call to an elderly parent, or pick up our kid from soccer practice.

Your brain is so used to being stressed by the end of the day that it seems familiar. You have done everything you needed to do, and you are still stressed to the max. If you are willing to try painting, you will find that it relaxes you. It will calm you right back down into the “you” that you enjoy being.

Create a Beautiful (Even Not so Beautiful) Painting for Stress Relief

The act of creating a beautiful painting can relieve stress and decrease negative mood. The beauty is in the process of painting, making art with your hands, fingers, and imagination. Regardless of the outcome, enjoy the meditative effects of art-making. Painting allows you to truly express yourself which is what helps you relieve stress and anxiety. This is the reason you should always focus on the process of art-making, even imperfectly, instead of the final product.

Painting is an Emotional Release

Anyone who spent time painting understands what a cathartic experience it can be. Stress, anxiety, and mental health issues often go hand-in-hand. Participating in an emotional release, such as painting, allows a person’s mind to unwind and tune out all the challenges that contribute to stress. Releasing emotions through painting is a positive experience for many painters. Painters can express their feelings through their art, and the finished painting will reflect that emotion.

Painting Reduces Stress-Related Hormones

Whether you are a first-time painter or Leonardo da Vinci, making art can considerably reduce stress-related hormones in your body. Hormones such as cortisol can be used to measure stress in the body.  The more stressed a person, the higher the cortisol level. According to a study published in Art Therapy with the title “Reduction of Cortisol Levels and Participants’ Responses Following Art Making,” 75 percent of the study subjects’ cortisol lowered during art-making.

Participants reported that making art was “very relaxing.” Some people reported feeling less anxious as early as five minutes into making art. A reduced stress level leads to a healthier, happier lifestyle and improves mental health.

Painting Promotes Creative Growth

There are both mental and physical benefits from expressing yourself by creating a painting. Painting offers an outlet and a release. With painting, you can produce something unique and express yourself in a special way.

Contrary to popular belief, everyone can be expressive and creative in the arts.

Painting Relaxes Your Body

Painting can relax your body by lowering the tension in your muscles and by decreasing your heart rate. It can be extremely relaxing if you approach painting correctly. Don’t think that just because you haven’t painted anything since primary school that you are a “talentless artist.” Let me tell you that you are not. If you take the right direction to get started, and you dismiss the thought that the only way to pain is to create a fantastic portrait of someone.

All you need is some basic painting supplies, the ability to follow simple instructions, and you’ll be on your way to relaxation station. I checked, and that’s a real place.

Self-Care Through Painting

Sometimes with all of our responsibilities, we fail to understand the need for self-care. Taking even a half-hour on a regular basis to devote to painting can offer you more of what you need in this area. With painting, you have the additional advantage of being left with something at least interesting and at most amazing to show for it.

Tap into a “State of Flow” with Painting

When you are deeply engrossed in an activity, it is said that you are experiencing a “state of flow.” The experience is similar to meditation. Flow can lower stress levels and enhance your performance. You may experience flow when you are painting, listening to relaxing music, running, gardening, playing tennis, or drawing.

Start Small and Enjoy Painting

If you give your children a paintbrush with paper, they grab the paintbrush and paint on the paper. They don’t tall you, “I am not an artist,” or “I don’t have any experience with painting,” or “Kids shouldn’t be painting.” They say, with a smile on their face, “Cool! Let’s go!” For children, painting is just another fun activity. Remember the time when you could spend time doing things just for the fun of it? You didn’t worry about not being an artist. You didn’t judge yourself or berate yourself for your artistic abilities. You just enjoyed the moment.

Gain More Self-Awareness through Painting

Painting offers a path to accurately assess your strengths and limitations, with a solid sense of optimism, confidence, and a growth mindset. Painting provides a firm foundation on which to build these skills. How does the act of painting do that? Because painting is largely processed based. Making art provides a framework in which you can explore creative endeavors, both alone and with others. It is an opportunity to offer and receive feedback in a constructive manner, learn to accept praise and criticism from your peers, and promote a growth mindset.

Each painting you create is an opportunity to demonstrate improvement, to bring new life to a new work of art, to grow as a painter. This process is only possible with an immense amount of self-awareness. As an artist, you must exhibit the very definition of self-awareness, and carefully assess your strengths and weaknesses with a sense of optimism and confidence.

Take a Relaxed Approach to Painting

If your goal is to reduce stress and relax, take a relaxed approach to how you learn to paint. Even if you don’t consider yourself “artistically inclined,” you shouldn’t put too much pressure on your efforts. It is a gross misconception that to be a painter; one must be born with inherent talent. All you need to get started is drive and passion.

To make sure that you take a relaxed approach to painting, remember the following facts:

  • Everyone, including you, can be a painter.
  • Painting can be calming.
  • Quiet your inner critique and allow your mind to relax, making art.

Painting helps you relax because it allows your mind to focus on one central topic. This relieved anxiety on the mind and relaxes the body. The combination of painting and relaxing music can be healing your body and soul.

You can search for painting classes in your local community, on Youtube, and various online learning platforms. Before you commit to a program, check the reviews to find out what others think of the program. You want to make sure that you join a relaxing and fun learning environment.

What type of paint is best for beginners?

For a beginner, acrylic paint is a good option, and so is watercolor paint. Both types of painting techniques are beginner-friendly. They are inexpensive and easy to clean up. Oil painting is considered a “high-maintenance” method because it requires additional solvents for clean up. It is also more expensive than acrylic and watercolor.

In addition to paint, you’ll need some essential supplies to get started:

  • Paintbrushes – If you are on a budget, choose the more affordable synthetic brushes. They are also easy to use. Get a small selection of synthetic paintbrushes with different tip types (round, flat, bright, filbert, fan, angular flat, etc.).
  • Rinse water cup – It is a simple but necessary tool to wash your paintbrushes. If you are on a budget, you can fill a cup with water. Relax, it’s no big deal.
  • Journal, Sketchbook, or Canvas – You can do simple paintings in a sketchbook or a journal. Then paint your idea on canvas. You can choose from different types of canvases. The type of weave and fiber used to make the canvas can make a big difference. You don’t have to stress about making a mistake if you buy an inexpensive ready-made canvas when you are just starting out.
  • Palette – You can choose from many different types of palettes. The main difference between palettes has to do with the material used for the surface. The most common palette surface materials are plexiglass, wood, plastic, and safety glass.
  • Soap – Soap and water is all you need to clean up acrylic paint.
  • Varnish – Artists use varnish to seal their paintings.

So grab a paintbrush, and start painting. I hope that the art of painting relaxes you and brings you joy.

If you are not ready to become an artist, you can view art masterpieces to calm your anxiety:

  • Frederick Edwin Church, El Rio de Luz (The River of Light)
  • Georgia O’Keeffe, Rust Red Hills
  • Claude Monet, Poppies
  • Vincent van Gogh, Starry Night over the Rhône
  • Henri Rousseau, The Snake Charmer
  • Karlo Mijic, Mountain Landscape
  • Eugene Von Guerard, Cabbage Tree Forest
  • Caspar David Friedrich, Moonrise over the Sea