Life can be stressful and can create havoc for your mental health. Dealing with a long history of severe anxiety has affected many aspects of both my academic and social life. I remember times when I felt worry-free and spent the majority of my time doing what I loved, which included painting, sketching, and even doodling on anything I could.

At times when my anxiety was at an all-time high, I started ignoring my art more and more until I stopped picking up the paintbrush or pencil altogether. It was during a stressful midterm week when I discovered that my passion for art helped me in a way I never expected. 

Reviving My Inner Artist

beer, coffee, tea
Vanessa Wong

Not to long ago, midterm week rolled into the semester much sooner than I had expected. I spent most of my time cooped up in my room or in the library with nothing but studying on my mind. To be honest, I already felt burnt out. Even during the mini breaks I gave myself, I could not stop thinking about picking up the textbooks again.

While I was in deep thought, I found myself mindlessly doodling in my notebooks. Completely intrigued by my mini sketches and images, I felt calm and at ease. At this one point of the whole week, my mind was clear and my anxiety had dissipated. Inspiration had found me again, and I was in a much better state of mind. 

The Colors Were Therapeutic

Vanessa Wong

After doodling and coloring all over my notes, they soon progressed into paintings. I brought back the watercolor and oil paints to give my sketches life on blank sheets of paper. The vibrancy of the colors felt cheery in contrast to the dull black and white pages of my textbooks from studying.

It felt nice to see some color because it brought me back to a better mood. The colors were therapeutic in that each color I used reminded me of a happy thought. For example, baby blue and bright yellow for a lovely sunny day. 

An Outlet for Expression

pizza, beer, tea, coffee
Vanessa Wong

It was difficult to express every emotion I was going through on my worst days. I remembered that art helped me expel even those indescribable feelings out onto canvas or paper rather than harboring them inside to myself.

I was compelled to express how I felt through images because art has a way of representing complex emotions. It put my mind at ease that these images could be interpreted in different ways for how I was feeling.

coffee, wine, tea
Vanessa Wong

In a way, my inner artist was with me all along, and it resurfaced when I needed it the most. My mental health is at a better state now that I have revived my passion for art. It may not be art for everyone, but getting in touch with your creative side provides a nice break from the normal work or school routine.