“Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
— Pablo Picasso
Creative Arts and Health
We are starting a new blog series called the impact of creative arts and health. The posts in this series will talk about a range of health topics and give you some ideas on how to incorporate more creative activities into your daily life! We are also going to highlight some of the resources we offer in our art studio.
What are the real benefits of the creative arts and health?
Listening to music, writing in a journal, painting or sketching, or being part of a social group such as a drama group or book club is an effective way to stimulate the brain, and anyone can do it. We know it’s good for us, but in what ways?
Mental Health Benefits
Participating in creative activity can reduce stress, strengthen the immune system and protect against depression and anxiety. Doing something creative gives your brain a break from usual stresses and thoughts. It can improve self-confidence, self-esteem and positive identity. People who create art are more likely to practice self-reflection, self-care, and are more likely to be open to positive perceptions of their own health and their goals about their own health.
Social Health Benefits
People who engage in creative activities are more likely to have wider social networks, have a sense of belonging and purpose, engage in volunteering and are less likely to feel isolate and marginalized. Art provides an increased opportunity for multi-generational interactions and reduces discrimination between ages. All of this combines to provide a greater chance at a satisfying quality of life!
Challenging ourselves creatively can improve our memory, problem solving, maintain neuro-spactial functions as we age, and improve our ability to recall information and recognize and be aware of the world around us. Art gives our brains a workout!
Path to Healing
Creative engagement can provide an outlet for healing for those who have suffered abuse or trauma, and provides an avenue that may help us cope with a transitional event or stressful change in life. Artistic activities can be used as ways to explore emotions or a path to healing and can even be used to express ideas and solutions to larger social issues (addiction, bullying or domestic violence as an example).
Doing something creative can help us manage persistent pain and other chronic illnesses. It can be used as a distraction tool to keep the focus off the pain or illness and can aid in calming the mind and body.
Practical Strategies for Using Art To Improve Health At Home
Here are three quick exercises you can do at home to relax, de-stress, and get those creative juices flowing:
- Get your doodle on! Doodling is a great way to loosen up the mind and start to relax the body. Take a break and let your hand start moving and your imagination flow. Experiment with different lines, shapes, textures, swirls, and before you know it, you will have covered a whole page! Begin with a sheet of plain paper and start with a dot or line in the middle, the next step is up to you!
- Play dough is not just for kids! Pick some up from the store, use your own recipe, ask a friend or search online. Squash, stretch, and roll your stress away. Add essential oils for an extra boost of therapeutic benefit! Great to do with kids or on your own!
- Kinetic Sand or fine-grain sand! If you haven’t yet tried any of these, they’re awesome! Kinetic Sand is a great sensory product that moves and melts in your hand is relaxing to play with. Fine grain sand also has Zen-like properties. Whether you choose to go to the beach or write your name in a sand tray using a rake or your finger, the act of moving sand in different directions and making different patterns is another great way to release tension.
Creative Arts and Health at the Alongside You Open Studio Sessions
Join us for coffee and tea in our Open Studio Sessions to unwind
We have a huge selection of gel pens, pencil crayons, markers, and more for all your doodling needs! We stock play dough for those of all ages, and have both kinetic and fine-grain sand if you are curious and want to give them both a try!
- Get your Zentangle on. Zentangle is a drawing activity invented by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas, designed to make drawing meditative and accessible to all. Patterns and shapes are drawn inside a 3.5″ square piece of paper. It’s very mesmerizing and there is no erasing allowed! We have Zendoodle Kits, pre-cut papers ready for use, a wide variety of ink pens, Zendoodle books full of pattern ideas, and books on how to incorporate colour into your designs.
- Make prayer bead projects (necklaces and bracelets). Many different groups of people, cultures and faiths have used beads in a variety of ways for reflection and contemplation. We have a variety of beads, charms, string, hemp, and jewellery-making tools and supplies at your disposal. Try something new and add it to your day as a reminder to take a moment yourself to breathe!
- Take up Knitting! We have a wide variety of knitting needles and yarn at your disposal! We even have a monthly Friday Night Knitting Club if that is of interest to you! The repetitive nature of activities such as knitting helps to quiet the nervous system, releasing dopamine, a natural anti-depressant!
Resources On The Impact of Creative Arts and Health
For a more detailed study on the benefits of Creative Arts and Health, check out the following resources! We hope they’re helpful for you and if you have questions we’re more than happy to sit down over a cup of coffee or tea and chat about it with you!
The Benefits of Crafting on Mental Health
Health and Art: An Overview
The art of being healthy: a qualitative study to develop a thematic framework for understanding the relationship between health and the arts. Davies, C. R., Knuiman, M., Wright, P., & Rosenberg, M. (2014). BMJ Open, 4(4), e004790–e004790. Guided by the biopsychosocial model of health and theories of social epidemiology, the aim of this study was to develop a framework pertaining to the relationship between arts engagement and population health that included outcomes, confounders and effect modifiers.
Types of Creative Arts and Health
The connection between art, healing, and public health: a review of current literature. Stuckey, H. L., & Nobel, J. (2010). American Journal of Public Health, 100(2), 254–63.This review explores the relationship between engagement with the creative arts and health outcomes, specifically the health effects of music engagement, visual arts therapy, movement-based creative expression, and expressive writing.