Drawing for Stress Relief

Have you ever found yourself doodling when nervous? Or maybe you draw little pictures while talking on the phone or when you’re in a meeting. If this describes you, then keep up the good work! Science has proven that drawing and doodling are not only good for the brain, but doing so helps reduce stress.

Whenever we feel anxiety or other stressors, our bodies release a chemical known as cortisol. Cortisol appears in high levels in folks who are stressed out. While it’s normal to get a burst of cortisol now and then, the over activation of cortisol can disrupt many processes in the body.

Studies show that just 45 minutes of doing art significantly lowers stress levels. And it doesn’t matter if you’re aimlessly doodling or creating a masterpiece. Both are great ways to practice mindfulness.

It activates the brain’s reward center

Creating art doesn’t just help clear the body of unwanted cortisol—it also activates reward pathways in the brain. A team of researchers measured the blood flow in the brains of people who were making art and noticed an increase to the brains reward center, the medial prefrontal cortex. Activating the brain’s reward center releases the brain chemical dopamine, known as the happy hormone.


It triggers the relaxation response

Why is drawing so relaxing? Turns out that rhythmic and repetitive motion triggers what’s known as the relaxation response. Noted Harvard cardiologist Dr. Herbert Benson first identified the relaxation response in 1975. The relaxation response is the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system as a way to combat the flight-or-flight response. The relaxation response returns the nervous system to normal. Many mindfulness techniques such as breathing, yoga and meditation are also excellent ways to prompt the relaxation response and it turns out so does picking up your pencil!

Join my ongoing Drawing for Stress Relief Workshops and learn how to have more fun and stress less!

Welcome to my blog where I write about art, yoga and mindfulness and how it all connects.

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