Did you know that drawing can cure chronic diseases and disorders, and improve resilience?

“Drawing is therapeutic. It influences brain waves and can alter emotions,” says Delhi-based psychotherapist Shweta Dhyani

author_img Ayesha Singh Published :  17th April 2022 11:00 AM   |   Published :   |  17th April 2022 11:00 AM
drawing_ Image for representational purposes only

Image for representational purposes only

We’re all storytellers. Drawing makes these stories come alive. When words fail you, art fills the gaps. The good news is everybody can draw. The bad news is not everybody knows this. Viewing or creating art improves brain function. If done consistently, it can be transformative. “Drawing is therapeutic. It influences brain waves and can alter emotions. It may positively impact hormonal health by releasing more serotonin, a mood stabiliser. In short, drawing is an expressive tool that can help you understand yourself better, and we all could do a little with that,” says Delhi-based psychotherapist Shweta Dhyani.

“I can’t draw.”

Yes, you can! 

Contrary to what you think or what people may have told you, you can draw. In fact, anybody can draw. If you still think you cannot, it’s more to do with your belief system than skill or talent, according to Graham Shaw, an author and the founder of Vision Learning which helps people develop a range of practical skills around the art of communication. Drawing and sketching are at the centre of this.

But why draw?

“Drawing helps you think. It pushes you beyond self-limiting beliefs,” says Dhyani. You don’t have to draw like Picasso. You can doodle, scribble, or scrawl. Taking the time out to do this can put you back in touch with yourself; something people let slip easily. “There is an immediate shift in your awareness when you draw. You become attentive, intuitive and alive, so to speak.

Scientifically speaking, new neural pathways are fired. What is this? When you practice something intentionally such as a new skill, habit or belief system, neural pathway or a series of connected neurons that send signals from one part of the brain to another are formed. Repetition strengthens these neural pathways and the thing you have been repeatedly doing becomes your default behaviour.

This will encourage you to stay on the same track. So, the more you draw, the more you will want to draw and soon, the practice will become a source of release of pent-up emotions,” explains Dhyani. With the outpouring of emotions, you understand yourself better. Being able to understand where your worries, anxieties, fears and even certain phobias are germinating from, is the first step to self-improvement. “With time, symptoms of despair reduce and you are in better control of yourself,” she adds.

The power of creativity, in particular drawing, has been documented in a study conducted by Judith Burton, Professor of Art Education and Research, Teachers College, Columbia University. It shows that subjects such as mathematics, science, and language require complex cognitive and creative capacities that are ‘typical of arts learning.’

Where should I begin?

“Anywhere and at any point,” suggests Rajesh Raut, a Mumbai-based art therapist. “How you draw, what you draw, the patterns you make, the colours you use (or don’t use), the style you follow… are all a clue to who you are,” says Raut, adding, “It’s your personal statement.”

While, there is no standard way of operating (and that’s the beauty of it), Raut follows a simple technique in all his workshops. He calls it ‘free flow’. “The thing you need to understand about this kind of drawing is that it is not competitive. You don’t have to be the best. You don’t even have to make sense. But you have to be honest with yourself. Let go of judgement and biases and just draw. Pick up any piece of paper and a simple pen or pencil and begin. Carve out a few minutes every day to do this. This will make all the difference because consistency builds habits. Habits change behaviour,” says Raut.  

Drawing can even help heal symptoms of chronic diseases and serve as a vehicle for improving resilience. It aids recovery from almost any kind of disorder, especially post-traumatic stress disorder. It encourages self-expression and promotes a sense of confidence in one’s abilities. That’s the draw of drawing.

Getting started

✥Challenge self-limiting beliefs about not being able to draw. Everybody can draw.
✥Set realistic targets about how long you’ll be drawing every day. Start with five minutes so it’s easier to follow through.  
✥Do not draw with preconceived notions. Each day will be different and so will be your drawings.
✥It is not about perfection. It is about reflection.

Make the most of it

✥Try and work with a licensed art therapist if you are suffering or recovering from an illness.
✥Working in a group will be fun and engaging. It will give you a chance to make real-life connections.
✥Use tools most comfortable to you.
✥While drawing, if you sense uncomfortable emotions coming up, take a break.
✥Couple your drawing practice with introspection. Pause from time to time to notice your feelings.
✥If you don’t know where to begin, start with line art as it is the most basic aspect of art.
✥Turn on music in the background while drawing as it will make the process more enjoyable.