The strength of our own wellbeing, and the effect it can have on our mental health is something that is very much in the public eye. It’s also a subject very close to my own heart. By tuning in to a positive mindset we can lift our mood, gain confidence and face the world with a ‘can do’ attitude. So how can art help us to develop a healthy sense of wellbeing ?
There has been some really amazing research in recent years into the power of creativity on our wellbeing, and it’s a growing movement. The act of creating can be calming and positive, and puts us into a moment of focus and development, away from our everyday life. Instead of worrying and allowing our focus to be drawn to everything else going on around us, and the negative influences in our lives, our focus is concentrated on that one piece of creative work. Turning negative focus, into positive focus.
With it’s slow, methodical and gentle activity, painting and drawing is almost like meditation. We are forced to take things at a slower, more patient pace and we can become so in the moment that other outside distractions dissolve into the background. You may have heard of the practice of Mindfulness, and this is exactly what it means. The meditative state of being in the moment.
Our lives today can be very hectic, with so many demands on our time. But if we take the time to set aside a moment outside of the schedule to really focus on something creative, we can spend time on our self care, and improve our wellbeing.
There’s evidence to suggest that even a small amount of time spent doing something creative is beneficial to our wellbeing. Here’s a few suggestions
A few minutes sketching, or roughing out ideas
Drawing a new subject. Do this carefully, and accurately. Take time to focus on observation
Creating a beautiful colour chart with a new pigment
Make a Concertina Sketchbook
Adding colour to some thumbnail compositions
Spend a day on a tutorial workshop
Spend some time in nature. 15 minutes in the garden, or a walk around a park. Focus on what you can see and hear.
The Forbes article ‘Here’s How Creativity Actually Improves Your Health’ by Ashley Stahl is a great read, and delves further into the healing power of creative processes on our mental health. There have been loads of journal and medical studies into how the creative act of writing, drawing, playing an instrument, pottery and all of those classic evening class creative courses can have a positive impact.
All I know is that creativity works for me. With 25+ years living with bi-polar my saviour, and my sanctuary is painting. Painting helps stop the crippling anxiety and constant feelings of negativity. For anyone else who needs an outlet for a bit of self healing, I highly recommend it, and it will be time well spent. You even end up with something of your own to look at, so it’s got to be a good thing. Why not join in. Grab a cuppa, a sketchbook and a pencil or two, and give it a go.
Here’s a bit of extra reading on how even a small amount of access to creative processes can be good for us from BBC Arts