It seems as though no matter what we do, stress is a part of our everyday lives. While juggling all the different areas of our day to day existence - family, work, friends, relationships, money - we find ourselves stressed out, so we snap at people, overeat, oversleep and do lots of other things that are just plain bad for us. But there is something simple and inexpensive you can do for 30 minutes every day to help minimize your stress levels and that is… to draw! Don’t believe us? Let’s go over some of the ways drawing and sketching can work for stress relief.
Studies have proven that the repetitive motions that come with sketching can help soothe and synchronize various parts of your body, like your hands and eyes. This synchronicity leads to what is called the relaxation response, which can cause:
- Decreased blood pressure
- Slower heart rate
- Lower pulse rate
If you’ve ever been extremely stressed, you remember the rushing thoughts, pounding heartbeat, sweaty palms, and the feeling like you can hardly breathe. The relaxation response addresses all of these stress related symptoms, almost like hypnosis.
Being stressed out usually comes from worrying about things we can’t control; either things that have passed or things that lie ahead. We worry so much about these things we feel trapped by the inability to do something to change the things we want to change. A lot of what calms stress is the ability to be in the present and not let the past or the future infringe too much upon your life.
With drawing, you remain focused on the task at hand. We connect with our sense of sight heavily, blocking almost everything else out. We are hyper focused on shading, texture, shape, colour and are able to let go of the things we are worrying about.
When we stress and worry about things beyond our control, we consistently feel like we are failing to solve a problem. With drawing, you have a singular picture in mind that you are working to create. As that picture comes together, you feel accomplishment. This sense of worth and productivity can help soothe the potential feeling that you are not accomplishing the things you desire.
Not only that, but much of drawing is about perspective. How can you look at the subject to achieve the desired look? How can you shade it to achieve the desired tone? What colour schemes should you use to achieve the desired mood? These problem solving challenges can transfer to other areas of your life. “Translating a problem into visual form or creating a visual analogue is a powerful way to reframe it and to see it in a new light. Creating an analogue can also help us visualize solutions.”1
We learn to draw from when we are very young. Most of kindergarten is spent drawing and colouring after all. Our culture associates drawing with a youthful time of expressing oneself through art. Kids use drawing to understand their world, to learn about shapes and colours and to filter everyday stimuli into images they can understand, not to mention working on fine motor skills.
By reconnecting with this youthful activity, you may be able to reconnect with your inner child. You relax your mind and let your imagination run wild while drawing, which can help relieve stress in ways you never thought possible.