Improving Mental Well Being the Arty Way

Whether you feel you have any artistic talent or not, we were all born with the need to express ourselves in whatever form that may take. I believe that creative expression benefits our brains and our mental health, making us happier, healthier people. Read these 5 ways art makes a difference: 

1. Stress Relief
Creating artwork provides a distraction that gives our brain a break from the norm. Activities like painting, sculpting and drawing are relaxing and rewarding – lowering stress levels and leaving us feeling mentally clearer and calmer.
We’ve all been in ‘the zone’ when we get totally immersed in a creative project? This focuses our mind and pushes aside all worries, we’re concentrating on the art and don’t have time to think about the bills, it acts like meditation.

2. Creative Thinking
Art enhances our problem-solving skills, encouraging creative thinking so that we come up with our own solutions. This alternative thinking also stimulates our brain to grow new neurons. We can use art to stimulate the brain, like exercises that use our senses in new and novel ways.

3. Boost Self-Esteem
We all proudly display our children’s artwork on the fridge and we should do the same for our own artwork too! The ‘happy hormone’ dopamine has been shown to stimulate the creation of new neurons and prepare our brain for learning. Craft hobbies like knitting, quilting, sewing, drawing, photography, sculpture, woodwork, gardening and even home DIY all increase our levels of dopamine, ward off depression and protect our brain from aging.

4. Quality of Life for Dementia Patients
I’m a firm believer that music and art can enhance cognitive abilities and memory for people with dementia. Dementia is not just about memory loss, patients also experience agitation, aggression, anxiety, depression and insomnia. When dementia patients are encouraged to create visual art, sing or make music, their pleasure is clear to see and it can improve their social behaviour and reduce their symptoms.

5. Chronic Health Conditions
Millions of people deal with chronic health conditions, along with the stress and anxiety that accompanies them. Studies have found that music and visual arts have a positive effect on chronic illnesses:
  • It lets patients forget about their illness for a while, focussing on a positive experience
  • It enables people to rediscover their identity from before their illness took over
  • It gives sufferers a sense of achievement
  • It helps people to express their feelings
  • It reduces stress by lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol

So if you’re suffering from stress, anxiety or depression, there are many ways that art can help. Whether it’s picking up a colouring book in your lunch hour or joining a week-long sculpture retreat, you can express your emotions and overcome some of those negative feelings.

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