Art & Anxiety (+5 reasons it helps)

This article will cover art anxiety, we will try and understand what art therapy is in regards to anxiety. We will look at how one can use the power of art to heal, and how art can alleviate anxiety. We will also look at anxiety as a sign of creativity. Finally, we will discuss a few FAQs on this topic to get a better understanding. 

How does Art help Anxiety?

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health problems affecting many people across the world. It is very crucial to get help for both mental and physical health by finding an easier and more accessible way to manage our anxiety. And engaging with art could be one of the best ways to do this.

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Everyone experiences anxiety, it is a natural human reaction to recognize and respond to danger. The short burst of anxiety can be a good thing, it can motivate the person to get things done and even spark their creativity.

It is important to know that prolonged periods of anxiety can have more negative effects on a person. It can lead them to become unwell and in some extreme cases, it could develop as serious disorders. Anxiety like that can be very damaging to both physical and mental health. 

Vincent Van Gogh, a well-known artist is thought to have suffered from extreme anxiety. Among other mental and physical health issues, he was diagnosed with a serious anxiety disorder during a stay in an asylum. He wrote letters to his friends mentioning his “fits of anxiety” 

In this modern-day and time, anxiety is often caused by changes in circumstances, uncertainty about the future, pressured situations at work or school, and things that are beyond the control of that person. The current situation the world is under, with a global pandemic, has brought with it many new challenges and eruptions in everyone’s daily lives. Along with distress, it has also brought about uncertainty about the future in regards to health, living situations, and jobs. 

During this time of uncertainty and anxiety, it is noticed that many people have turned to art for support. Many people would have probably done it without even realizing, for example, reading books, watching TV shows, playing video games, taking virtual tours of museums and galleries, and listening to music, etc.

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We saw people singing on balconies and hanging hand paintings in their windows to express hope and to uplift spirits. 

It is observed that viewing visual art has been shown to offer a number of benefits to both patients and healthcare workers, the benefits include decreased negative emotions, such as; reducing stress, depression, fatigue, and anxiety, and increasing positive ones.

What is art therapy?

Art therapy is a non-verbal, experience-oriented therapy that uses the visual arts, like, painting, drawing, sculpting, clay modeling. And it administers as a standalone therapy or in multidisciplinary treatment programs for anxiety.

The non-verbal art therapy approach is considered to be suitable for individuals with high levels of anxiety, especially if they have difficulty in cognitive labeling of their feelings, or if they are very focused on cognitive labeling and use rationalizing as a psychological coping mechanism. And since talking about anxiety and traumas can evoke fear and be associated with a physical reaction. 

It is stated that distance to the anxiety can be provided when creating visual artwork. To ‘distance’ oneself from the emotion during the act of creating art is believed to improve cognitive regulation of emotions The supposed mechanism is that during the process of creating an artwork, one can experience a feeling of being ‘in control,’ which helps to counterbalance the overwhelming experience of anxiety.

People don’t need to be talented or an artist to receive the benefits, and there are professionals that can work with them to dive into the underlying messages communicated through their art, which will aid in the healing process.

Art therapy can achieve different things for different people. It can be used for counseling by therapists, healing, treatment, rehabilitation, psychotherapy, and in the broad sense of the term, it can be used to massage one’s inner-self in a way that may provide the individual with a deeper understanding of him or herself.

Using art therapy to help reduce anxiety 

Art therapy helps facilitate cognitive disruption by moving attention faraway from rumination. This redirection of attention faraway from worrying then helps to manage the systema nervosum.

Art therapy allows us to precise ourselves visually and relies less on verbal expression. A verbal expression can be a difficult task if a client is catastrophizing. The feelings of being overwhelmed can make verbal expression difficult which then negatively impacts the client’s perception of self-managing feelings and thoughts.

Art Therapy can benefit clients by initially diffusing a stressful environment within the therapy setting. Techniques will help the client feel calm and ready to specialise in the task at hand. Once this anxiety is defused, the client is then more hospitable to process thoughts, emotions and assess behavior.

Art therapy also can assist anxiety by improving self-esteem, resolving problems, expressing feelings, problem-solving and goal setting which aids in working towards improved thinking patterns.

Anxiety as a sign of creativity 

When people have anxiety it is hard to express themselves verbally, so by using different art forms can help them in expressing their emotions more freely. Not only does it help them in expression but also helps reduce anxiety symptoms.

There is evidence that engaging in artistic activities, like music, visual art, movement or creative writing can help a person emotionally and physically. It helps to reduce stress and anxiety and has been shown to alleviate symptoms associated with depression.

Music has a soothing capacity, it has been shown to decrease anxiety and fill people with positive emotions. In clinical studies, music is used to help people manage chronic pain and restore emotional balance. It has also been proven to benefit the immune system.

Music has never been more accessible. In today’s world, people can turn on the radio, pull up their favorite artist on any live stream platform on their devices. They can use music to help motivate themselves to exercise, tend to household chores, or finish their work. People with an aptitude of music-making and songwriting can use their talent to express their emotions this way. 

Visual art is also beneficial for health. Painting, drawing, and sculpting help people communicate ideas that are hard to think about or difficult to put into words. It’s a safe place to put intense emotions when they might be going through a difficult time or dealing with past trauma. Making visual art helps them to stay focused on something positive and can enhance the person’s self-worth by providing them with an opportunity to challenge themselves and achieve artistic goals. 

FAQs: Art Anxiety 

How does art reduce anxiety?

Especially when utilized in combination with other treatment methods, research shows that art therapy: Calms the nervous system. Art therapy activities are meditative, quiet, and calming, which helps soothe symptoms of stress, nervousness, and irritability.

Do artists have anxiety?

Artists are more anxious than people in other professions, But they are also better at coping with challenges, a new study finds, researchers at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence found that creativity is higher among people with certain psychological traits.

Is painting good for anxiety?

Mental-health issues and stress or high anxiety often go together. Finding an emotional release like painting allows a person’s mind to relax and let go of all the problems that contribute to a high-stress level.

Does art improve mental health?

Yes, It can help to boost confidence and make us feel more engaged and resilient. Besides these benefits, art engagement also alleviates anxiety, depression, and stress.

Can art therapy help with anxiety?

Studies suggest that art therapy can be very valuable in treating issues such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and even some phobias. It is a great way to express your emotions without words, process complex feelings, and find relief.


In this article, we covered what art anxiety was, we understood what art therapy is in regards to anxiety. We also looked at how one can use the power of art to heal, and how art can alleviate anxiety. We understood how anxiety is a sign of creativity. It is also important to realize that a person doesn’t have artistic talent to take part in art therapy, it is just an easier way of expression. If you have any questions regarding this topic feel free to get in touch with us.