11 reasons why art matters for your mental health – Veronica Winters Painting

Janice K. Johnson

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Written by Dr. Abhishek Allam, Psychiatrist | Alma Mater: Sri Siddhartha Medical College | [email protected]

How Does Creating Art Help Your Mental Health?  

If you are facing mental health challenges, you may find that creating art can significantly influence your mental state. Sciencetimes.com states that through creative processes, “People grow to manage their emotional well-being and at the same time develop new coping skills.”

A Wide Variety of Activities:

The creative arts may include many different activities. A few examples are:

  • Visual Arts
  • Performing Arts
  • Digital Arts
  • Fabric Crafts
  • Wood Craft
  • Pottery
  • Traditional Crafts
  • Creative Writing
  • Instrumental Music
  • Vocal Music
  • Filmmaking
  • Cooking
  • Gardening
  • Decorating

11 Benefits to Create More Art

Let’s consider just a few of the benefits that creating art may accomplish for your mental health:

#1 Creativity and Problem-Solving

Artistic expression stimulates the parts of your brain that control cognitive activities. That means that as you are being creative, you are exercising your ability to learn, solve problems, and remember facts. You will naturally make mistakes in your creative work and then look for new ways to fix or edit them. These are all skills you need to deal with mental challenges.

#2 Stress Reduction

Creative work can also distract you from depressing thoughts or memories, and it can have a soothing effect on your brain. Sciencetimes.com states that making art lowers your brain’s stress hormone (cortisol).

#3 Healthy Expression of Emotions

As you deal with the ups and downs of mental health, your emotions may fluctuate, or you may become stuck in anger or depression. Creative expression gives you a safe outlet for these emotions. As you express yourself, you may find that other people identify with and understand your emotional state. This gives you a sense of community, which is especially helpful if your mental state leads to loneliness.

#4 A Sense of Accomplishment

Mental health challenges can seriously lower your sense of self-esteem. Creative activities can boost your confidence in yourself as you are able to see and touch the results of your work. When you are facing a long-term mental journey, you can find a sense of accomplishment by engaging in short artistic projects.

#5 Mindfulness

Mindfulness, sometimes described as meditation, is simply being aware of your thoughts and your mental condition without judgment. According to The Washington Post, “Creating art is a type of meditation, an  active training of the mind that increases awareness and emphasizes acceptance of feelings and thoughts without judgment and relaxation of body and mind.”

#6 Anticipation creates excitement

If you’re coping with mental health challenges, you may feel that you have nothing to look forward to or anticipate. Adding creative activities to your calendar can make a big difference. The National Library of Medicine has found that anticipating a positive event can be a powerful way to produce a positive emotion. 

#7 Feelings of Joy

Creative expression is fun. If you’re bored, anxious, or depressed, you’ll need to plan activities that give you a sense of joy. Creative projects can be a great source of pleasure. Researchers at Greensboro, North Carolina, summed it up this way: “Happiness and creativity go hand in hand,” adding that “everyday creative behavior is both a cause and an effect of positive psychological processes.”

#8 Stimulate Memories

A study at Harvard found that drawing and painting can stimulate memories. This can be valuable for those who are struggling with dementia. You may also find that creative endeavors help you release some of the pain of traumatic memories.

#9 Create Community

Mental health challenges can cause feelings of loneliness. Getting involved in an artistic activity can bring you into contact with others who share your interests. This can be especially true for seniors who are coping with the limitations that aging can bring. You may also find new connections with people who appreciate your creative expressions.

#10 You Don’t Have to Be a Professional

Using artistic activities to cope with mental health challenges doesn’t require a degree or even a huge talent. The process is more important than the product. If you are already a professional artist, you may find it helpful to experiment with a new branch of the arts or a new art medium during this time.

#11 Art and Recovery

Creativity can be a recovery tool if your struggle with mental health involves substance abuse, enhancing your recovery treatment. Ask your therapist or behavioral health center about how you might seek artistic opportunities and how they might affect your mental state.

head study from Indian Girl by Palmer_veronica winters artist
head study drawing from Indian Girl by Palmer by veronica winters artist

Sources

Apa.org – The latest research on creativity and the arts

Frontiersin.org – Art Therapy: A Complementary Treatment for Mental Disorders

Harvard.edu – The Healing Power of Art

National Library of Medicine – Well-being and Anticipation for Future Positive Events: Evidences from an fMRI Study

Sciencetimes.com – 5 Ways Art Helps Mental Health

Sunshine Behavioral Health – Treatment Centers

The Washington Post – Why making art is the new meditation

Dr. Abhishek Allam is an active research scholar in
Clinical Psychiatry at the University of Arizona, Tucson and a writer and editor for Sunshine Behavioral Health.



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