Art: Fast, Easy Stress Relief for Helpers

art stress relief for helping professionals

Stress Relief for Helpers

Helping professionals and healers are notorious for stress and burnout. We work so hard to help others and leave little for ourselves. We wind up sleeping poorly, neglecting our relationships or bodies, and looking for the easiest way through the day. This is why our stress and depression levels are higher. Our likelihood of developing a substance abuse problem is worse. Even our suicide rate is higher than the general population.

So, even though we treat all these issues in others, we actually run a higher risk of having problems ourselves just as a byproduct of our chosen careers. This is nothing new, though. All of us have been to at least one training or workshop on self-care. We know what we are supposed to do. The problem is doing it, right?

How Art Can Help

Art is an easy and fun way to fight burnout. Not high art like you would find in a museum. For our purposes, we are not striving for perfection or master artistry. Instead, this art is more about the process than the product. We are looking for an enjoyable activity rather than something to critique. Therefore, it is also a chance for us to let go of our inner critic.

Furthermore, healers tend to hear about and/or see humanity's worst moments on a day to day basis. It is easy to get dragged down in the sheer heaviness of it all. In the mental health world, we call this secondary trauma. When we use art as a medium for expression and play, we connect with ourselves gently. Art can be a way to identify and release the tension from our work that collects in our bodies and causes stress.

Finally, art gives you an alternative to talking. It is generally a quiet, peaceful activity. And if there are no expectations about the product, then it can be truly restorative. A talented colleague of mine Carolyn Mehlomakulu has written a short, free e-book geared directly towards healers like you and me. In it, she provides several quick, easy art activities that anyone can do. It is a great way to sneak in some self-care during those 10-minute breaks that I might otherwise waste online. You can check out this great resource for stress relief for helpers and healers of all types here.

And just so you get a sense of how this works, I'll share a picture of one of my creations. This is a mandala. I call it "The Eye Ball" lol. Maybe it will never be hung on someone's wall, but I definitely felt more calm and grounded after drawing this.

Art for Healers


Don't wait until you are completely depleted and burned out. Try taking out your colored pencils or gel pens instead. And, as always, if you feel you need some extra help getting your mojo back, give me a call. I would love to chat and see if it makes sense for us to work together.


Traci W. Pirri, LCSW

Traci W. Pirri, LCSW is a top anxiety therapist, depression counselor, and adoption therapist in Austin, Texas. She is also licensed in North Carolina. She is passionate about working with people whose lives or professions have caused them to struggle, but still desire a life worth living. She helps people find the connections they want with their relationships and daily lives.

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