Art Therapy for Migraine – Does It Relief?

In other articles, I wrote about some tips to help you to reduce migraine pain. Today I want to introduce you the idea of going through art therapy as a way to potentially reduce migraine pain. And if you feel confidence of my opinion, maybe you can take decision to try art therapy! One of the main goals of art therapy is to help you manage your pain. It accomplishes this by reducing the perception of pain. The perception of pain is lowered by shifting one’s attention away from what is causing the pain. In other words, one starts to mentally focus less on what is stimulating the pain and more on the task at hand, which is to create a piece of artwork. You can say this is simply a form of distraction! 💆‍♀️

There is more to art therapy than just distracting one from the pain, though. This form of therapy teaches individuals practicing it how to calm and modify one’s mood to prevent the pain from taking control of one’s emotions.

In a practical sense, studies have shown that art therapy can be helpful to a certain extent and has been used in various healthcare settings for pain/symptoms management [1-4]. A study in 2018 involving almost 200 participants revealed that engaging in art therapy for about 50 minutes resulted in a reduction in the intensity of pain [1]. The therapy also raised their general moods and reduced anxiety. Most significantly, the results applied for all participants regardless of their age, gender, or diagnosis! 😊

The other indirect way that art therapy can be helpful for migraine is through the reduction in stress. Since stress is one of the most prevalent triggers of migraine attacks, by using therapies that target a reduction in stress, the frequency of migraine attacks can also be potentially decreased. Art therapy, along with other forms of interventions, has demonstrated positive results in reducing stress in participants—a significant point for consideration [5-9]!

Possible Limitations

While it has been understood that art therapy has the capacity to reduce pain, there has been no scientific study to show a direct link between the reduction in migraine attacks and the therapy. Anecdotal stories from the migraine community point out that art therapy has been helpful to manage their migraine pain, but whether this therapy can eventually play a role in reducing the number of attacks remains unexplored.

There are some limitations to take into account before you engage in art therapy. One such factor is cost—art therapy may not be the most affordable option for everyone and not all of us would also have access to such therapists! Of course, there’s nothing to stop you from producing art at home to creatively express your feelings and without the structure of a therapy session!

The second limitation is that if you are highly sensitive to smells, using paints that have strong chemical smells may even worsen your migraine and this would not be pleasant at all. Consider other mediums that do not involve strong chemicals, for example pencil drawings! Lastly, the light conditions of the environment where you are working (computer screens or bright rooms) may also have an impact on the severity of your attacks.

Before we conclude this topic of art therapy and migraine, an interesting point to share is that the relationship between migraine and creative expression through art is not entirely new. Today, artworks depicting various aspects of migraine can be found in all sorts of digital mediums on the Internet and plays a part in creating more awareness of this invisible condition!

Another thing you can try (and don’t do it for fashion) is mandala coloring books for kids, teens, and adults. What are mandalas? They are complex figures, almost always circular in shape that produce different sensations.

Where do they come from?

Ángela María Téllez Bautista, a psychologist graduated from Santo Tomás University and a professor of psychology and religion at the Ibli-Facter Educational Unit, explains to H&C that “mandalas are objects of sacred value for Hinduism, they are representations of sacred places for Buddhism . The Hindu esotericism that bases it, refers to deep and complex spiritual realities”.

On the other hand, Vicente Jara in his article “Mandalas and their meaning: are they harmless?” published in Aleteia magazine, she explains that “they are not neutral abstract or symbolic representations, but rather have a spiritual background. They represent the totality of reality. A mandala is a fragment of the microcosm that wants to encompass and show the totality of the macrocosm, the entire reality… Ultimately, a mandala contains within itself the totality of Everything. It is a representation of the World as a whole”.

If I colour mandalas, what happens?

Making mandalas and colouring them on the ground or on another support such as paper regardless of their use in Buddhism, and in Hinduism, can produce joy, peace, security, and help reduce fear, anger, insecurity and above all stress!

I explain you a little better 😊

Painting mandalas (regardless of whether it is an activity that has been in fashion in recent years), from the visual point of view, mandalas surround us in a spirit of balance to the point that painting a mandala allows us to relax. It is a very serene way to relax your mind and senses from routine, and disconnect from what surrounds you.

Now, when painting a mandala we must choose a series of colours, but here we must pay attention (especially when it comes to mandalas with complex shapes) since it will be the colours that will help us determine our own emotions.

While we paint a mandala we are surrounded by tranquillity, we have a space for ourselves. According to experts, painting a mandala stimulates the left hemisphere of the brain, thus inhibiting the emotions that cause stress, anxiety and phobias. It is estimated that the process of colouring a mandala is associated with meditation, since the mind focuses on a specific objective, enhancing well-being and calm.

Finally, we also need to understand that while art therapy may present hope for pain management, such as with mandalas is a relaxation technique and they are considered in Buddhism and Hinduism as a method of healing for the soul and are used to work relaxation and concentration. Both techniques are should not replace conventional migraine medications recommended by your doctor. Alternatives therapies can of course serve as a supplement to your existing treatment plans!

What are your thoughts on this? Do you have other relief methods that you’ve tried, and have they been helpful for you? Please, leave me your comments below! 💕

Keep us still connected! 🦋.

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