With the month of May focussing on raising awareness for the importance of mental health and self-care, I found myself wondering – what role can Art possibly play in improving our mental health?
As someone who has always been more artistically inclined as a child and now works as an artist fulltime, I have always found emotional and mental relief when working on my art. My studio is my safe space, where it not only facilitates in being a creative outlet but allows me to be mindful of all the thoughts and emotions that might be brewing in that particular day.
So, in the spirit of May, the Mental Health Awareness Month, I wanted to write this blog to list down some of the amazing major benefits that occur when you let your creative side flourish. Drawing from research and personal experience, here are the incredible perks that you can enjoy from being more artistic:
- It helps with Stress Reduction
There is nothing like sitting down with a bit of paper and art supplies to get your mind of things and just focus on creating. I know how personally this has helped me get over some of my stresses in the past and all I needed was some quiet time with my canvas. There is also science to back this up – according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, engaging in creative activities like drawing, painting, and music can help reduce stress and promote positive mental health. The study involved over 6,000 adults, and the researchers found that engaging in creative activities was associated with lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression.
- It’s a Self Esteem and Inspiration boost
Creating art can provide a sense of inspiration and pride in our work, which can boost our self-esteem and confidence. Our artwork does not have to be something elaborate, just creating something that we are proud of can be a powerful source of self-esteem and validation. I cannot begin to describe the feeling of satisfaction and validation I get when I apply that final coat of varnish on my paintings. There is a review published in the journal The Arts in Psychotherapy which found that creating art can help improve mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and enhance self-esteem and self-awareness. The review analysed over 100 studies on the topic and found consistent evidence for the positive mental health effects of creating art.
- It’s a Mindfulness Practice
The practice of creating art can be a meditative practice which can encourage mindfulness and present-moment awareness. When we focus on self-expression and creating art, we are fully engaged in the moment and not distracted by our thoughts or worries and this promote a sense of calm and well-being. Having a mindfulness practice is considered to be an incredibly reliable way to tackle mental health issues that stem from past traumas. A study published in the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association found that creating art can help reduce symptoms of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The study involved 39 participants who had experienced trauma and were randomly assigned to an art therapy group or a waitlist control group. The art therapy group showed significant improvements in PTSD symptoms compared to the control group.
There you have it – some incredibly useful benefits to your mental health when you take some time to create art! This is something that not just relies on anecdotal evidence, but is also backed by science. So, I hope that this month we will make an active effort to look after ourselves and others, ensuring that we are focussing on our emotional and mental health with the help of some art and creativity.
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Check my digital artwork collection here.