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Drawing or painting

Many people find that spending time on artistic activities, such as drawing and painting, can be soothing. Repeatedly moving a pencil or paint over paper can itself be a calming act, and sometimes being creative is an opportunity to express difficult thoughts and emotions that can’t otherwise be put into words, gaining more insights on what you’ve been through or are going through.

Some have said that art helps them to focus on the present moment, helping them focus on how they’re feeling and experience connections between their emotions and body. While this can be overwhelming, it is a step towards better self-awareness and may help with knowing what solutions or actions to take.

There are plenty of websites where you can download free colouring pages to get you started and you can find free art classes nationwide through the National Saturday Club website and other organisations.  

In the below video, illustrator and animator Mair Perkins, who has worked with our Schools in Mind team on booklets and We all have  mental health animation, discusses the many ways in which drawing and painting may help your mental wellbeing:

What young people have told us:

'There's a sense of productivity and and accomplishment after you finish- drawing and painting could be a big stress reliever!'

'I felt productive and calm afterwards - as there are no deadlines and there is no quota to complete.'

'It helps me express my feelings an almost get sucked into an imaginary world of my own. I sit down and draw every day after school and try using different materials in different ways.'

'Definitely at least try drawing. You can make art using anything- and create the most wonderful things out of a pencil and paper.'

'I love drawing and find it calming a lot (and also sometimes stressful) but doing it while rewatching a show can be really calming.'

'Drawing or painting helps me relieve stress and I feel much happier during and afterward.'

'Yes and no. I think it helped me calm down but it made me stressed when I went out of the lines.

'I think it helps a lot because it's very relaxing and you can just let all your anger out on the art piece.'

There isn’t much academic research in the area of self-care for young people who are living with mental health issues. We are trying to find out more about what works for different people so we can better advise other young people what to try.

If you’ve tried this activity when you were struggling in relation to your mental health, please let us know if it helped you and how by clicking on the ‘Did this activity help you’ button.