Finding Time For Wellness
The connection between mental wellbeing and maintaining a healthy work life balance is often highlighted as the key to tackling poor mental health in the modern age. With work encroaching on the home for many of us, in the post pandemic climate, finding a real break from productivity can be an uphill battle. But when it comes down to finding a worthwhile activity to wind down with or boost wellbeing, there is often a push for hobbies that focus on physical wellness. Whilst exercise is vital to mental health and general wellbeing, what other practices can nurture the soul? Creative practices such as painting, drawing, and ceramics are quickly becoming the answer, for many, to the stresses of modern life.
Creativity Is Key
Creativity is often associated with childhood, and in turn abandoned as a priority by many in adulthood. This rejection of the arts often stems from the modern quest to reach efficiency in search of ultimate productivity. Whilst there are many benefits to modern working techniques, our relationship with creativity in all its forms is suffering. How can we neglect such a huge part of culture when we know the benefits are limitless?
Doctors, scientists, and psychologists have been working to determine a connection between creativity and mental wellbeing and the statistics speak for themselves. An ‘arts-on-prescription’ project showed a 37% reduction in GP consultation rates and a 27% reduction in admissions to hospital. A further study conducted within deprived communities in London found that, of those people who engaged with the arts, 79% maintained a healthy diet, 77% engaged in more physical activity, and 82% enjoyed an overall improved state of wellbeing.
Art Therapy – What Is It?
If creativity really is a form of medicine, then why isn’t a more creative lifestyle being encouraged to aid mental illness? Well, it is – art therapy isn’t an especially new practice, but it is certainly only just beginning to emerge into the mainstream. More and more are we seeing Art Therapists on our social media timelines, spreading awareness of the benefits surrounding art and mental health. Not only can Art Therapy be used to treat specific mental health conditions, but its practices can be integrated into our lives to promote wellbeing and self-awareness. Art Therapy in its simplest form is the use of creative practice to improve wellbeing and aid healing, often associated with the treatment of mental illness and supporting those with long term care needs; Art Therapy can also be a tool for teaching and aiding those with special educational needs or disabilities. The uses are endless, as are the benefits. We’ve already acknowledged the effects of creativity and how lifechanging art can be, but how does art therapy specifically work? Art therapy encourages the use of artistic practice to process or communicate thoughts and feelings. Doing so can often be easier than verbally communicating like you would in traditional therapy. Allowing yourself time to think through visual and tactile means adds a layer of thinking that isn’t required to verbally present your thoughts. In turn a deeper level of self-reflection can be reached which is exactly why artistic processes are so valuable to wellbeing both in treatment and the day to day.
Where to start?
But what can you do to start? Beginning a new hobby or lifestyle can be overwhelming but the benefits can be unimaginable. Start by getting your research in, this article is just the start. Why not take a browse through your favourite socials, looking under the tags ‘Art Therapy’, ‘Therapeutic Arts’, or ‘Mindful Art’. YouTube is also a great place to find talks by practicing Art Therapists and Artists to build an understanding of where to start. Once you’ve got some ideas and understanding, try mind mapping your favourite areas. Some people may be more inclined to explore 2D practices through painting or drawing, whilst others prefer more hands on, 3D activities like sculpting with clay, wire, or paper. Art has so many genres, it'll take a while to find where you feel comfortable but once you do it can unlock wellness in a new and creative way.
The future of art therapy
It can be hard to find a break from modern pressures and find activities that help us unwind, but when we do, its important they fit us just right. Exploring all areas of wellness can allow us to align ourselves with the practices which suit us most. This is why exploring the possibilities of art therapy as support for our mental wellbeing is worthwhile, either through a professional or at your own leisure. Who knows, maybe in the coming years art will become a more regular treatment for illnesses of all kinds. For now, why not look further into the possibilities of art for therapeutic purposes in your own life. Who knows, maybe it’ll be the start of your budding art career or a journey to self-awareness you didn’t even know you were seeking.