For Depression Relief, Creativity Is Key

When something's on your mind, chances are you'll feel better when you get it out. All the more so if you're recovering from depression. You'll find you have a better handle on your emotions if you get the creative juices flowing through art, writing, music, or a favorite hobby.

Don't worry if you never thought of yourself as an artistic person. The idea isn't to come up with a masterpiece, and you don't have to show your work to anyone if you don't want to. Just expressing yourself -- and creating something original out of your feelings or mood -- can be satisfying in itself. Some therapists use artistic expression as a way to facilitate therapy.

It's not hard to get started. Pick up an old hobby or look for a new one. Try one of these tips:

Write. Type or pen your thoughts about upsetting events in your life, because that can help you deal with your emotions about them, research shows. For example, studies show that writing about traumatic experiences -- for just 15 minutes a day for 3 days -- leaves people feeling better. You can show what you've written to family, trusted friends, or your therapist if you want. But you can also keep it private.

Sketch. Pick up an art pad and some colored pencils. Then head to your favorite scenic spot -- or even a local art gallery -- and draw what you see.

Paint. Get a set of watercolors or acrylic paints, an art pad, and some brushes. You can make your art at the kitchen table or set up a basic studio somewhere else in your home.

Play music. If you used to play an instrument, now might be a good time to take it up again. Or you can try something new. Sign up for those guitar lessons you always dreamed of.

Take photos. Dust off your camera and snap pics of whatever you like. You might enjoy tinkering with photo editing software, too, if you have the right gear.

Make a movie. Use a video camera or your smartphone. Your kids, your pet, or any subject you like can be the star. You can make things up as you go or write a script to follow.

Try other hobbies. Take up needlepoint or knitting. Crochet a sweater. Make a quilt. There are so many ways to explore your creative side.

There's no need to feel shy or embarrassed when you're trying to be creative. The result doesn't matter. Push past your doubts and give artistic expression a shot. You may find that you enjoy it more than you expected.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD on December 09, 2017



Bourne, E. The Anxiety & Phobia Work Book, Third Edition, New Harbinger Publications, 2000.

Pennebaker J.W. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 1999.

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.

The American Art Therapy Association.

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