The Therapy of Art
The years one spends in grade school are often volatile and unpleasant. In my own experience, I saw my peers seeking out physical pleasures, mind numbing drugs and self injury in an attempt to deal with their ghosts. Although health classes rightfully teach the subjects of nutritional, physical and sexual health, they rarely approach mental health. In consequence, those who do not happen to learn healthy methods of dealing with stress seek out whatever else they can find to relieve the pressure.
As many of my friends and I were artsy, creating beautiful paintings or literary works came naturally. Although we still derailed into behaviors we didn’t recognize as dangerous at the time, art was our safe haven. Tear spattered pages of written poems recounted the story of stress, pressure and confusion. Frequently, dark images spread themselves across canvases. I often wonder if the adults and lucky parents who were shown these works of art ever wondered at their inspiration.
Beyond grade school, we see art used in countless ways to facilitate healing and change. Therapists and psychologists recommend a form of self expression not only to relieve stress, but to help clients better understand where their stressors come from.
Imagine a world where people sought out art instead of drugs or sex to relieve stress. It may seem childish to most adults to sit and draw a crude picture, but that is a socially learned assumption. If children in middle school or high school were taught that art is a fundamental way to relieve stress, they would grow into adults with that knowledge. In a few decades, drawing in your free time wouldn’t seem so childish anymore.
As a twenty-something facing graduation in just a few short months, stress is a constant in my life. The business of the past few years has caused me to exercise my artsy side much less. While I still partake in traditional college activities to relieve stress, I find my true relief exists in art. No longer having the time to draw my own lines, I plan to proudly buy myself a small coloring book. Art, no matter how simple or masterful, has a place in everyday life. When no one else will listen, paper and canvas lend a welcoming ear.