One of the best ways to get better sleep is to reduce stress and anxiety. That’s easier said than done for many of us in today’s fast-paced and demanding world. And while it’s more than likely you know some good sleep tips such as darkening the room, powering down devices and reading, there’s one that you may not have heard or thought about.
Creating art. That’s right, drawing, painting, sculpting, writing, any form of creative expression. We’re not expecting you to go Van Gogh, here. We’re talking art that anyone can do – and do it in a way that promotes relaxation and sleep.
Many studies have shown that art reduces stress-related hormones in the body, boosts creative thinking and brain plasticity, and provides mental health benefits. It has been likened to meditation because it has the power to put you in a meditative-like state in which the mind is focused and able to release worries for a period of time.
During that time of “being in the zone” through art creation, you can take your mind off the daily stresses and thereby lowering your heart rate, blood pressure and helping you be present in the moment.
Here are some ways to use art to create better sleep:
Photo cred: Zoe Ford
- Visual gratitude journal. Here’s a twist to writing in a journal before bed. A visual gratitude journal where you can keep photos, paintings, sketches or even clippings from magazines can be a physical reminder of all the things that bring you joy in your life.
- Art out your mood. Rather than acting out a bad mood, paint or draw it to convey and release your feelings. By doing this, you can feel and see the energy you have by seeing the kinds of marks – short and dark or long and flowing? Shaped in curves or sharped edges?
- Freehand drawing. Make circles of all sizes, overlapping and concentric; then color them in. Coloring is very therapeutic because it lets you choose colors to bring life and energy to the art, revealing another layer of emotions.
- Collage of words and images. On a standard size piece of cardboard or matte board (4”x6” or 5”x7”), create a collage of words and/or images that speak to you. Do this organically, without thinking or planning ahead about the words or images. This activity can reveal a lot about your subconscious feelings and thoughts.
Photo cred: ShapeCollage.com
And while we’re focused on visual art, keep in mind that music is a wonderful accompaniment to art activities that can also promote sleep and improve sleep quality in addition to other health benefits.
Beyond the ability to improving sleep, art is highly effective therapeutic technique to heal the mind and body. Art therapy is used to treat a variety of medical, mental, social and educational difficulties in individuals. It has the power to boost self-esteem, alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety, improve self-management and coping skills, and more.