Finding our creative side can be so empowering but also can take us back to that age where we had the freedom to be messy, careless, and free with our art making, where we would use art materials for fun and without judgement from others. As adults this can be lost, picking up a paintbrush, or looking at a black canvas can fill us with dread, fear, and judgement. But allowing for this can be so rewarding for our mental health and wellbeing,
“The arts are a critical component of healthcare. Expressive art is a tool to explore, develop and practice creativity as a means to wellness.” ~ Well arts Association
There is an increasing amount of scientific evidence that proves art enhances brain function. It has an impact on brain wave patterns and emotions, the nervous system, and can raise serotonin levels. Art can change a person’s outlook and the way they experience the world. The art allows us to bring to the foreground the connection of the right brain emotions. When thinking about the brain in two parts, we more often use the left side more in our day-to-day life or work. The left brain is sometimes called the digital brain. It’s better at things like reading, writing, and computations. The right part is sometimes referred to as the analogue brain, where imagination, holistic thinking, intuition, arts, rhythm, nonverbal cues, feelings visualization, and daydreaming come from.
Here I will mention a few art ideas that you can try. The mandala being one of them, only needing paper and pens or pencils, following a repeated pattern. Mandalas can help increase our self-awareness, centring our body and mind. Using certain colours can help reduce anxiety and stress. When creating your mandala, look at examples online or templates which will allow you to start to learn how to draw one, then allow your instincts and feelings to guide you to create a mandala that represents what you hope for. Creating and designing a mandala can be therapeutic and relaxing, so just remember to take your time and enjoy the process, allowing for refection.
Other examples of art making can be clay work, where you can use the clay to shape into any form, object, or figure. It can also be used in a way to get some release from unwanted feelings through the sensory touch and texture of the material. Using the clay can allow for sensory development, creativity, containment, and just getting messy and having fun. Meighan, 2012, talks of how using clay and working with the texture can be very receptive to human feelings.
Not only making art but also visiting exhibitions and galleries can be a good source of wellbeing and improved mental health. Getting that joy and pleasure of looking at some amazing pieces but also the feelings we can have when viewing a piece that may touch or connect with us. When this happens, we call it embodied cognition. This happens when you observe a profound piece of art you are potentially firing the same neurons as the artist did when they created it thus making new neural pathways and stimulating a state of inspiration.
So, there are many ways in which we can use art in helping our mental health and wellbeing as a way of self-care. I hope reading this gives you some inspiration or excitement to go away and try something new and creative and see what it brings.