Keep Calm and Crayon Drawing and its wonders for the mind

You're stressed. You have three tests in the same day, and a project due extremly soon. How do you destress quickly? Drawing is a very good way to relax for many people. But it's not just calming. It can also help heal people mentally, and it's fun!

Excellent Effects

There are various excellent emotional and physical effects of drawing. Coloring is being applied as a substitute to meditation by anybody from the scientists at Johns Hopkins University to the Editors of Yoga Journal because it is so calming. But it is much more than that. Drawing is also a means of personal expression. For people who don’t like to create very expressive styles of art, like paintings, drawing can be a great way to express yourself. And for many people, it has become a way to heal the mind. There are many stories of healing from art. Here is one from a Weekly Reader publication about a girl with an eating disorder. “Mary, a teenage girl with an eating disorder, found it impossible to express her anger in words. One day in an art therapy class at a psychiatric hospital in Chicago, Mary was asked to create a mask showing her image of herself. Mary created a mask of a raging bull with a chain around its neck. Her art therapist asked her what the mask meant. Mary replied, "This is the part that will not allow me to eat." It was the first time Mary was able to express her anger in words. And she had done so first through art.” (Sheryl DeVore, Current Health 2, a Weekly Reader publication.)

The Art Cure

Art can also help heal people of depression, addiction, and many other mental and physical illnesses. But it is not just drawing. It is also music, drama and dance. Being an art, music, drama or dance therapist is a hard working job, and many therapists work all across the country in many different places like nursing homes, schools for the handicapped, and in special education classes. One thing Art Therapy does is help a patient with mental illnesses heal. A 13 year old girl at the Institute for Therapy through the Arts at North Shore Music Center in Winnetka, Illinois was participating in a drama therapy class. She was struggling with depression from being in the middle of her parents harsh separation. But she wouldn’t admit that she was struggling. “One day in the drama therapy class, the students were performing Hansel and Gretel. Grossmann recalls: “The girl insisted on repeating the reunion scene when Hansel and Gretel came back to their parents. We did the scene four times. We began to realize that a lot was happening inside the girl’s mind.” Her way of handling her parting with her father was repeating the scene. But Art Therapy can also help a patient with physical illnesses heal. Sally was a stroke victim who had lost her ability to speak. ““So we tapped out her name, Sally, on rhythm sticks,” says music therapist Ann Scheerer. “Then we played the melody of her name on the piano. Next we got her to tap out her name on the rhythm sticks. The speech therapist worked on helping her form sounds. It was a long process, but after a year the woman said her name,” recalls Scheerer.” This was an amazing achievement for Sally, and she began to work more with speech and music therapists.

Painting Patterns

There are many different patterns of art that can calm or relax you. Two are Zentangles and Mandalas. Zentangles are repetitive shapes that provide a therapeutic effect. Why draw them? The repeated motion of drawing or coloring in the many shapes of zentangles is helpful to a teen’s mental state even if they have no skill at drawing. But if zentangles seem too complicated for you, there are also mandalas. Mandalas are round shapes with many different shapes inside of them. Those too are very calming to draw or color in.

Here are some Zentangles and Mandalas.

What’s Next?

Now what to do? You’ve heard all these great things about drawing, but what should you do now? One thing you can do is buy a coloring book. Coloring books have zentangles and mandalas, and they are very relaxing. One book, Art Therapy: Coloring for the Creative Soul drawn by teenage Scottia Hutchings was made to give a beneficial effect through coloring. Art is very important in her life, so she made the book. Art might not be extremely important in your life, but that doesn’t mean that coloring can’t relax you! So if you ever need a quick break from life, just keep calm, grab a coloring book, and draw on!

By Maia Seigerman

Credits:

Created with images by stux - "chalk colored pencils colour pencils" • hgratny - "mandala 1.29.13" • Artondra Hall - "#zentangle #flower #drawing #handdrawn #doodle #doodling #zenspiration" • deborah's perspective - "card spiralphicops 1side" • Eric.Ray - "Mandala"

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