Mental Health Benefits of Art Therapy in Managing Burnout

by | Jun 20, 2023 | Medical Wellness

Art therapy (also known as creative therapy) has been shown to have multiple benefits in managing burnout. Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress, and it is often encountered in high-stress occupations and situations. Art therapy offers a creative, nonverbal outlet for emotions that may be too complex or difficult to put into words. The focus here is not so much on the end result, but rather, on the creative process of performing something therapeutic for the mind.

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Managing Burnout: Stress Reduction

Art therapy can lead to reductions in stress and anxiety levels. In a 2018 study published in the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, participants reported significant decreases in their stress levels after a 45-minute art-making session. The process of creating art can help to distract the mind from stressors, provide a sense of control, and also stimulate the brain to release dopamine, a natural mood stabiliser.

Emotional Expression and Understanding

Art therapy can help individuals express and understand their emotions better. A 2017 systematic review on the effectiveness of art therapy found that it promotes emotional expression, coping skills, and subjective well-being in a wide range of populations. Burnout often involves feelings of overwhelming stress and emotional exhaustion, which art therapy can help to manage.

Improved Self-Awareness and Self-Esteem

Art therapy can facilitate increased self-awareness and improved self-esteem. A study published in the International Journal of Art Therapy showed that art therapy increased self-esteem in women suffering from mental health conditions. This improvement in self-esteem and self-awareness can be beneficial in managing burnout symptoms, as it can lead to better self-care and coping strategies.

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Enhanced Coping Mechanisms

Art therapy provides a way to externalize and explore challenging experiences, feelings, and thoughts, which can assist in developing healthier coping mechanisms. Published research papers on psycho-oncology (a field of interdisciplinary study and practice on the psychological, behavioural, and social factors that are related to cancer) show that art therapy benefits cancer patients in various ways including improving their mental health.

Art therapy can be a valuable tool in the management of burnout. However, it is always recommended to seek professional help and support when dealing with burnout, stress, and other mental health concerns. Art therapy is typically most effective when combined with other therapeutic approaches under the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional.

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