This page presents one idea among 33 ideas developed in the book "Meeting the Challenge of Bipolar Disorder: Self Help Strategies that Work!" by the AYCNP.
Disappear in a quiet world of peace and creativity where time slips away. Three hours later, you scarcely realize than more than 15 minutes have passed. The mind slows down, is fully focused and engaged, and at the end, you have visual evidence of your self-worth. Your persistence and training have paid off. Neil Young sang about "that perfect feeling when time just slips," in his 1970s ballad, "Like a Hurricane".
If there was a perfect feeling when times just slips, it would be when you are fully engaging in creating art work. Modern psychologists describe this state of mind as "flow," when you achieve a type of timelessness, and lose track of the present. It is also referred to as mindlessness in present terminology, and what many don't realize is that "Flow" or mindlessness can be achieved, through creating artwork, as well through other creative activities. However, in this context, art is given consideration, as a means by which to calm, focus, and redirect the mind. As one art enthusiast said, "when I create art, hours pass by and I don't even realize it."
Creating artwork can calm anxiety, help you develop focus, contribute to greater self-esteem, help you break free from pornography addiction and contribute to a general reduction in the intensity of symptoms associated with bipolar disorder.
Evidence in the form of clinical studies, indicate that those with bipolar disorder are often highly creative, more so than the general population. That creative potential needs to be tapped and realized.
What is more, if there every were a full-proof natural cure for mania it would be in drawing and painting. The mind slows down and you are lifted into artistic hyperspace, where racing thoughts are next-to impossible. Creating artwork might one of the most beneficial natural cures for mania, bipolar disorder in general, ADHD and OCD as well.
Entering the somewhat disheveled art gallery, art school and home of Hudson County Artists Association in Jersey City, NJ, a wonderful feeling of peace quickly ensues. Away from the noise of the hustling streets, buses, cars and taxis, the smell of oil paint in the air, the peaceful grace of oil paint being stroked gently on the canvas seems to reverberate in the atmosphere. Without a shadow of a doubt, artistic endeavors can be therapeutic and calming. Creating artwork is magnificent self-help that can unlock the paralyzed corners of your mind and thaw mental and even emotional mental freeze.
Whether under the guidance of an art therapist
or engaging in art through one’s own initiative, art should be viewed as a form of self-help for bipolar disorder and numerous other mental health disorders for a significant percentage of those who are diagnosed with, or have the symptoms associated with bipolar disorder. Art can be compared to a natural mood stabilizer for many.
Creating Art Contributes to Self-Control, Controlling Emotions, Relaxation and Mindfulness
The peace and solitude that artwork brings to an individual can help them to develop self-control and quell racing thoughts that are associated with bipolar disorder and manic episodes, in particular.
Creating artwork can help calm racing thoughts.
Alternatively, one may engage in art as a way of coping with the ferocity of one's emotions, and creating artwork may allow one to express surging emotions in a socially acceptable way. Whether one engages in artwork to calm oneself, or do so in an effort to express one’s emotions as a catharsis, both avenues in terms of engaging in art can lead to better mental health.
Art can be a natural mood stabilizer. It is free of side effects, as well as being an activity wherein the act of creating artwork is beneficial in terms of both its process and its goal.
Essentially, by engaging in artwork, you find a space for relaxation and mindfulness. Moreover, while, unless you are already an artist or have natural abilities, it may take some time to produce high level art, you may be increasingly pleased with the outcome of your experiments with canvas and paint. When you sit back and see what it is that you yourself created, it helps you to remember your creative potential and worth as an individual. The painting or drawing that you have completed is an evidence of you and reaffirmation that you have value, whatever anyone else might think or say.
Art is good therapy for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
, obsessive-compulsive disorder
, eating disorders
, borderline personality disorder
, post traumatic stress disorder, as well as recovery from emotional wounds of child abuse
, and as an effective tool/skill in leveraging the breaking free from pornography addiction
; it rechannels the eyes positively when there is, evidently, a high need for visual stimulation in the porn-addicted individual
Art is rooted in positive visual stimulation (if you willfully choose positive subjects), and it can fill the eyes with evolving images, whether those images are peaceful and soothing or highly chaotic or emotional. If those images are peaceful, it can contribute to stability, if they are chaotic, it can serve as a catharsis.
Positive Art Therapy Helps Depression and Bipolar Disorder
Studies indicate that depression is helped through positive art therapy
; by focusing on positive and happy subjects, art as a therapy is more effective for depression, than when used a catharsis, especially after initial efforts of communicating any trauma have been achieved. Everyone’s artwork is unique, and we project into our artwork the emotions that we feel or that we want to feel.
Art as Self Help Helps Control Racing Thoughts
Artwork expresses what is inside us and can be an effective non-verbal form of communication. It is logical that, if one of the symptoms of bipolar disorder is talking rapidly, perhaps, slightly out of control during a manic episode or while in a manic state, that by keeping quite for two hours painting a canvas in silence, the mechanisms causing this rapid firing of synapses leading to racing thoughts and accompanying verbal overflow, are interrupted, and these particular symptoms are addressed, perhaps becoming a non-issue – three points less on your bipolar disorder ratings scale.
Perhaps this step alone will take you out of the range of a diagnosis of bipolar disorder
. As noted, creating artwork can allow for emotional release. It can reflect frustration, anger, or, more beneficially, especially after initial therapy or self-disclosure involving past trauma, love or a sense of peace; but it culminates in a release of our emotions, as an outlet for those emotions, and ideally, as a means of willfully focusing on positive emotions.
Sketching and drawing can help contribute to the development of powers of concentration as does painting. When you engage in creating artwork regularly, latent creative abilities can emerge and develop.
Art Therapy as a Professional Natural Therapy for Bipolar Disorder
Art can be a useful therapy used by an art therapist
. Art therapy is not an alternative treatment option, but it is administered by a board certified therapist in conjunction with therapeutic sessions. Therefore, art therapy is part of mainstream psychology practice. When a person may have difficulty in expressing him or herself to a therapist or psychologist
, or may be reticent or resistant about doing so, art therapy may be a good option.
Additionally, whether you utilize an art therapist or not, if you are seeing a therapist, counselor or utilizing the services of a social worker or coach, members of your support team, or even oneself, may interpret the products of artwork, and ponder the emotions that you have felt. Your completed artwork serves as visual evidence of your emotional state.
Portrait Sketching and Painting Contributes to Development of Compassionate Qualities -Art Self Help, Pornography Addiction
You can become your own "therapist" by engaging in art as a form of self-help
. Learning to do portraits is a marvelous form of artwork, but which needs to be developed in order to become fully competent at. In drawing or painting human beings or animals, qualities such as compassion and a personal interest in others can be developed.
Creating portraits is one of the highest forms of art and can be stabilizing in many ways.
Drawing the face of a child, for example, or of a beautiful women, you learn to develop seeing with “the eyes of love” rather than the “eyes of lust”. You are looking at the face, not the body of the woman, and you are beginning to learn to focus on the human face, the most-human part of the human body, rather than the sexual parts of the body. You begin to see the humanity of the individual, rather than stimulating lust.
Creating Art Contributes to Development of Self-Esteem
Art has the ability to contribute advantageously towards self-esteem. As you develop a skill, a talent, that perhaps they never knew they possessed, seeing the visual evidence of one’s work or talent contributes to positive emotions and to feelings of self-worth. As an avenue toward good mental health, art does make you feel good.
For all of these reasons, art is a great form of self-help and professional therapy, that is underutilized, but that can contribute towards better mental health for many with bipolar and other mental health disorders. For some it can be a large part of the
References for Natural Cure for Bipolar Disorder: Creating Art
Brandt, M. L. November 16, 2005. More evidence of association between bipolar disorder and artistic creativity. Stanford University News. http://news.stanford.edu/news/2005/november16/med-bipolar-1
The small study, which appears in the November issue of the Journal of Psychiatric Research, 11605.html
Megatulski, N. 2003. Creativity and Bipolar Disorder. Serendip Update.
Simeonova, D. I., Chang, K. D., Strong, C., Ketter, T. A. November 2005. Creativity in familial bipolardisorder. Journal of Psychiatric Research. Volume 39, Issue 6, November 2005, Pages 623–631. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Stanford University School of Medicine.
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