Making art can be quite meditative – you can get fully absorbed into it (in the zone or streaming state) when you completely lose the sense of time passing, and there is no space for your usual worries. Drawing for 45 minutes can lower the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in saliva.
I have found drawing invaluable to combat stress and my sketchbook is full of many little “proofs” that I had been “meditating”. I often use a tiny sketchbook and do a drawing even before I get out of bed. My breathing is always at its calmest and gentlest when my attention is absorbed into a drawing.
My favourite subjects are faces (human usually but also animal) often in simple graphite. I have done a few challenges now where I draw a face a day for 30 days, at the top of this page you will see one of them from 2022. And they don’t have to be great or lifelike, one tip is to show a lot of pictures on the page and make them small – don’t look at them too closely and they can look better! And the more you do the better you get, you just can’t help it.
It doesn’t matter how good or experienced you are at the particular technique, just do it to reduce stress. There are plenty of scientific studies that show the creative arts can help with stress management and prevention and can improve mental health. And it’s not just drawing. Knitting, crochet and other crafts can have benefits too. Think of “men’s sheds”.
There is a huge choice of online techniques to learn and classes to take. Online lessons came into their own during lockdown; I had booked an in person ink and watercolour workshop for the summer of 2020 which was cancelled for obvious reasons, but the teacher moved classes onto zoom. These were a real lifeline for me during that stressful period.
But by far the most relaxing technique I find is cross hatching, a lot of repetitive small strokes do the trick. Scroll down for links to my teachers.
If you are not yet a confident drawer, a great place to start is with this tutorial on Neurographica. It is a proven method devised by Russian psychologist, Pavel Piskarov in 2014 and it is popular in Russia and Germany. You don’t need to be an artist, it’s non-verbal, and it’s enjoyable. It’s a modality that lets you improve your mental health and relieve stress. It is very simple and well explained and anyone can do it.
Why don’t you give it a go? (search online for further info and demos on Neurographica.)
My favourite art teachers:
Water colour Free Sample Classes (roisincure.com)
Cross hatching: Free Video Tutorials – Alphonso Dunn
France Van Stone free (1) Drawing Faces with France – March 21, 2020 – YouTube