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The Art of Wellness

29 Jun 2018
With so many benefits for the mind, spirit, and art itself, creativity has the power to heal us and improve our overall mental wellness on a large scale.

People who enjoy the arts will likely attest to the fact that viewing art has a spiritual quality. Viewing a painting or seeing a play has the ability to form, shape, and hold in front of your very eyes, something that you feel internally. This type of connectivity between your emotions and mind is transcendent—but did you know it’s also extremely beneficial for your mental wellness?

A recent article by Vice claimed art therapy might be the next great breakthrough in treating mental health issues. For people in New Zealand, where one in six adults have been diagnosed with a common mental disorder at some point in their lives, it is important to consider the ways art may reduce symptoms of issues like anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. And, what's more: creativity is actually boosted by positive mental health, making the connection between art and mental wellness symbiotic. By unleashing our creativity and establishing human connection, art has an amazing power to boost mental wellness.

Creating Art Reduces Stress and Isolation

Many studies in mental health have found a strong link between art and stress reduction. One project led by Arts and Minds, a leading arts and mental health charity in the UK, found that weekly art workshops greatly reduced peoples’ feelings of sadness and worry. Especially for seniors living on their own who are more likely to feel the negative effects of social isolation a loneliness, art can heal these feelings and strengthen a person’s mental wellness.

In fact, one evaluation by Arts and Minds revealed a 73% decrease in depression and a 71% decrease in anxiety for participants in the workshops. Furthermore, 76% of people who took part in the workshops said their overall mental wellbeing improved, and they felt more socially connected and included. From these types of studies, it is time we recognise just how powerfully the arts can enhance our mental wellness.

Other Benefits of Art on Mental Health

In addition to reducing stress and other symptoms of mental health issues, art brings numerous other benefits to our wellness. For one, things like art, music and dance all employ different parts of the brain, compared to more everyday activities. Fueling this type of creative process produces different brain chemicals, literally opening the mind to new ways of thinking. Finally, it is also said that making art can boost a person’s self-esteem and viewing art can increase a person’s capacity for empathy.

Art Benefits from Mental Wellness, Too!

In many ways, art itself can also benefit from creative people feeling mentally and spiritually well. The process of making art — whether singing, dancing, writing, painting, or whatever — is good for your body and for the art world at large. Beyond the mental benefits, the world receives something only you have the power and motivation to create. Art offers an outlet, giving us a positive platform to express our mental well-being. This way, creation is actually a symbiotic relationship, as both the art world and our own mental capacities benefit from creating.

With so many benefits for the mind, spirit, and art itself, creativity has the power to heal us and improve our overall mental wellness on a large scale.

By Jane Kent

‘Arts prescriptions’ could improve mental health says Creative New Zealand