10 Practical Ways to Use Painting for Improved Mental Health
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 11 min read


  1. Paint to express emotions
  2. Use painting for stress relief
  3. Paint to improve concentration
  4. Paint to enhance self-esteem
  5. Use painting to increase empathy
  6. Paint to balance your mood
  7. Paint to enhance problem-solving skills
  8. Paint to nurture emotional growth
  9. Paint to promote a peaceful state of mind
  10. Use painting to encourage self-discovery

Painting is not just a way to create beautiful artwork. It's also a powerful tool that can help improve mental health. If you've ever wondered how to improve painting for mental health, you're in the right place. Here, we'll explore ten practical ways in which you can use painting as a form of self-care, therapy, and personal development.

Paint to Express Emotions

One of the most effective ways to use painting for improved mental health is to express your emotions through your artwork. Sometimes, words just can't capture what you're feeling, but a splash of color, a certain brush stroke, or a unique shape can. This method of expressing emotions is often used in art therapy, a specialized form of psychotherapy that uses art-making to improve physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Think of your canvas as a safe space where you can freely unload your feelings. Here are some ways you can do it:

  • Use colors to represent your emotions: Each color can symbolize a different emotion. For example, red could represent anger, blue sadness, and yellow joy. Feel free to create your own personal color-emotion dictionary — it's your painting, after all!
  • Let your brush strokes reflect your feelings: If you're feeling agitated, you might use quick, hard strokes. If you're feeling calm, you might opt for soft, slow strokes. There's no right or wrong way to do it — just let your feelings guide your hand.
  • Create abstract art: If you're not sure how to start, why not experiment with abstract art? It doesn't have to resemble anything specific. Just let your emotions flow onto the canvas.

By expressing your emotions through painting, you're giving them a form and acknowledging them. This can be a powerful step in understanding and managing your feelings — a key aspect of improving mental health.

Use Painting for Stress Relief

Who hasn't felt the weight of the world on their shoulders at some point? Stress is a common part of life, but if left unchecked, it can take a toll on our mental health. Here's where painting comes in handy. Engaging in creative activities like painting can be a great stress-buster, helping us relax and unwind.

When you're painting, you're focusing on what's in front of you — the canvas, the paint, and the brush. This focus can help divert your mind from your stressors, giving your brain a much-needed break. Plus, the repetitive motion of the brush strokes can be a soothing experience, much like a form of meditation.

So, the next time you feel stressed, why not pick up a paintbrush? Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Choose calming subjects: Paint a serene landscape, a quiet beach, or a gentle sunset. The peaceful imagery can help soothe your mind.
  • Play soothing music: Listening to calming music while painting can enhance the stress-relieving effects. Choose music that you find relaxing — it could be classical, jazz, nature sounds, or whatever soothes you.
  • Don't worry about the outcome: Remember, the aim is not to create a masterpiece but to relax and de-stress. So, don't worry about how the painting will turn out. Just enjoy the process.

So, how does painting help improve mental health? By providing a creative outlet for stress relief — a colorful, relaxing, and enjoyable escape from the pressures of daily life.

Paint to Improve Concentration

Ever found yourself lost in a book or a movie, completely unaware of the time passing by? That's called immersion. Painting can offer the same experience, helping us improve our concentration and focus. Let's explore how!

When you paint, you need to pay attention to a myriad of details — the size and shape of your brush strokes, the mix of colors on your palette, the light and shadow on your subject, and so on. This need for focus can help train your brain to concentrate better, improving your ability to pay attention in other areas of your life as well.

Here are a few tips to use painting to boost your concentration:

  • Start with simple subjects: If you're new to painting, start with simple subjects like a bowl of fruit or a single flower. As your skills improve, you can move on to more complex subjects that require more attention to detail.
  • Set a timer: Decide how long you want to paint and set a timer. This can help you stay focused on your painting without getting distracted.
  • Practice regularly: Like any other skill, concentration improves with practice. Try to paint regularly, even if it's just for a few minutes each day.

So, whether you're working on a detailed portrait or a simple landscape, painting can be a great tool for improving your concentration. The next time you're looking for ways to boost your focus, why not try painting? It's not just about creating art — it's about improving your mental health too.

Paint to Enhance Self-Esteem

Ever look at a blank canvas and think, "I can't do this"? You're not alone. But the good news is, painting can actually help boost your self-esteem. How, you ask? Keep reading!

When you paint, you're creating something unique. It's an output of your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. And every time you finish a piece, you're achieving a goal you set for yourself. This sense of accomplishment can do wonders for your self-esteem.

But remember, improving self-esteem through painting isn't about creating a masterpiece every time. It's about the process, the journey, the act of creating itself. It's about expressing yourself and finding joy in your work.

Here are some ways you can use painting to enhance your self-esteem:

  • Start small: You don't have to paint a large canvas right off the bat. Start with small projects and gradually build up to bigger ones. This gives you a sense of accomplishment and builds your confidence gradually.
  • Explore different styles: Don't limit yourself to one style of painting. Exploring different styles can help you find your own unique voice and boost your confidence in your abilities.
  • Celebrate progress: Don't just focus on the end result. Celebrate every step of progress, no matter how small. This will help you see your own growth and boost your self-esteem.

So, the next time you're feeling down about yourself, pick up a brush and start painting. Not only will you have fun, but you'll also be taking steps to improve your self-esteem and, in turn, your overall mental health.

Use Painting to Increase Empathy

Have you ever looked at a painting and felt a deep connection with the artist's emotions? That's empathy in action, and painting can help you develop it even further.

Empathy is about understanding and sharing the feelings of others, and painting can be a powerful tool in fostering this. By painting, you learn to express your own emotions. More importantly, you learn to interpret and understand the emotions expressed in other people's art. This can translate into better empathy in your everyday life.

So, how can you use painting to increase empathy? Here are a few tips:

  • Paint from the heart: Allow yourself to express your emotions through your art. Feel the joy, the sadness, the anger — let it all out on the canvas. This will help you understand your own emotions better and relate more easily to the feelings of others.
  • Study other people's artwork: Take the time to really look at and understand the art created by others. Try to understand the emotions they were feeling and expressing in their work. This can help you foster empathy for the artist and their experiences.
  • Participate in art groups: Join local art groups or online communities. Share your work, discuss others' paintings, and learn from each other. This can help you appreciate the diverse emotions and experiences of your fellow artists.

Remember, increasing empathy through painting isn't about becoming an overnight sensation. It's a journey. Be patient with yourself, keep painting, and watch as your empathy grows alongside your art skills.

Paint to Balance Your Mood

Everyone has those days where nothing seems right, and your mood keeps swinging like a pendulum. Well, what if I told you that painting could be your new mood balancer?

Yes, you heard it right. Painting can be a natural mood balancer, helping you to stabilize your emotions and achieve a more peaceful state of mind. It's not magic—it's science. Painting engages the creative side of your brain, distracting you from your worries and allowing for emotional release, which can help balance your mood.

So, how can you use painting to balance your mood? Here are a few tips:

  • Paint your feelings: If you're feeling upset, anxious, or just out of sorts, try painting your feelings. Choose colors and shapes that represent how you're feeling. You might be surprised at how much better you feel afterward.
  • Paint in a calm environment: Create a peaceful space for your painting sessions. Soft lighting, gentle music, and a comfortable chair can all contribute to a calm environment that helps soothe your mood as you paint.
  • Experiment with different styles: If you're feeling stuck in a rut, try a new painting style. Experimenting with different techniques can challenge your mind in new ways, helping to distract you from negative thoughts and balance your mood.

Remember, it's not about creating a masterpiece every time. The goal is to use painting as a tool for mood balance, focusing on the process rather than the end result. With time, you may find that painting becomes your go-to activity for those days when you need a little mood boost.

Paint to Enhance Problem-Solving Skills

Ever found yourself stuck in a problem, unable to find an effective solution? Next time, try picking up a paintbrush. You may ask, "how can painting help me solve problems?" Well, let's find out.

Painting is more than just splashing colors on a canvas. It requires you to think, plan, and make decisions—skills that are essential for problem-solving. When you're painting, you're continuously faced with decisions, like what colors to mix, what brush strokes to use, or how to create the perfect shade. Each of these decisions helps enhance your problem-solving skills.

Want to know how to improve painting for mental health, specifically your problem-solving skills? Here are some tips:

  • Try abstract painting: Abstract painting encourages you to think outside the box and create something unique. This creative thinking can be transferred to problem-solving, helping you to view issues from a different perspective and find innovative solutions.
  • Set painting challenges: Challenge yourself with specific painting tasks, like creating a piece using only two colors or painting a scene without a brush. These challenges force you to think critically and come up with creative solutions, enhancing your problem-solving skills.
  • Learn from your mistakes: Mistakes are inevitable in painting, but they're also opportunities for learning. Each time you make a mistake, you're faced with the problem of how to fix it. This process helps develop your problem-solving skills, making you better equipped to handle challenges in the future.

So, next time you find yourself stuck in a problem, remember: a paintbrush might just be the solution you're looking for.

Paint to Nurture Emotional Growth

Have you ever wondered why painting is often used as a therapeutic activity? It's because painting can help you nurture emotional growth. But you might be thinking, "how can something as simple as painting help me grow emotionally?" Let's dive in and see.

Painting is a form of self-expression. It allows you to pour out your thoughts, feelings, and emotions onto a canvas. This process of self-expression can help you understand your emotions better, and in turn, nurture your emotional growth.

So, how do you use painting to nurture emotional growth? Here are some simple steps:

  1. Paint your feelings: If you're feeling happy, paint a sunny day. If you're feeling sad, paint a rainy day. Expressing your feelings through painting can help you understand and process your emotions better.
  2. Reflect on your artwork: Once you've finished painting, take some time to reflect on your artwork. What does it say about your emotions? How does it make you feel? This reflection can provide valuable insights into your emotional state and promote emotional growth.
  3. Practice mindfulness: While painting, try to focus on the present moment. Pay attention to the feel of the brush in your hand, the smell of the paint, and the colors on the canvas. This practice of mindfulness can help you stay connected with your emotions, fostering emotional growth.

So, the next time you're feeling overwhelmed with emotions, pick up a paintbrush. It might just be the tool you need to nurture your emotional growth and improve your mental health.

Paint to Promote a Peaceful State of Mind

Ever noticed how time seems to blur when you're absorbed in a good book, a captivating movie, or, you guessed it, a painting session? That's not just your imagination. It's actually your brain entering a state of flow, a mental state where you're fully engaged in what you're doing. But why does this matter? Because reaching this state of flow can promote a peaceful state of mind. So, let's explore how to use painting to achieve this tranquility.

  1. Choose Your Subject Wisely: Paint something that brings you joy or calms your mind. It could be a still life of your favorite mug, a landscape of a place you love, or an abstract piece that reflects your inner calm. The simple act of painting something that soothes you can promote peace within.
  2. Set a Peaceful Environment: Your surroundings matter. Choose a quiet, well-lit space for your painting session. Maybe play some soft music in the background or light a scented candle. The goal is to create an environment that helps you relax and focus on your painting.
  3. Be Patient with Yourself: Remember, the goal here isn't to create a masterpiece; it's to promote a peaceful state of mind. So, don't rush. Take your time. Enjoy the process. If something doesn't turn out the way you wanted, it's okay. Just take a deep breath and keep painting.

By creating a peaceful environment, choosing a calming subject, and being patient with yourself, you'll not only create a beautiful piece of art but also promote a peaceful state of mind. Remember, it's not about the end product; it's about the journey to get there. So, the next time you're feeling agitated or stressed, why not give painting a try? It might just be the peace-promoting activity you need to improve your mental health.

Use Painting to Encourage Self-Discovery

Imagine yourself standing in front of a blank canvas. There's something both exhilarating and terrifying about it, isn't there? The possibilities are endless. You could paint anything, or nothing at all. But that's where the magic happens, in the decisions you make and the strokes you take. Painting can be an excellent tool for self-discovery, helping you to understand yourself better.

  1. Explore Your Feelings: Painting can be a mirror of your inner world. As you choose your colors, shapes, and textures, you are also revealing your feelings and thoughts. For instance, you might find yourself gravitating towards blues and grays on a day you're feeling down, or bright yellows and oranges when you're feeling upbeat. It's like having a visual diary!
  2. Understand Your Choices: The choices you make while painting can tell you a lot about your preferences, your tastes, and yourself. Do you prefer geometric shapes or organic forms? Do you like bold colors or muted tones? Do you always paint nature or are you drawn to urban landscapes? Understanding these choices can lead to insightful self-discovery.
  3. Challenge Your Boundaries: Painting can also be a way to push your boundaries and step out of your comfort zone. Try a new technique, a different style, or a subject you've never painted before. You might surprise yourself with what you can do and discover new aspects of yourself in the process.

Remember, each brushstroke is a reflection of you. So, don't shy away from the canvas. Embrace it. Use it as a tool of self-discovery, and you might just find that painting can improve your mental health by helping you understand, accept, and love yourself a little more.

If you're inspired by the idea of using painting to improve your mental health and want to explore this further, check out the workshop 'Making Art To Help Your Mental Health' by Louis Bever. This workshop will provide you with more practical techniques and insights on how art can be a powerful tool for supporting mental wellbeing.