8 Health Benefits of Art
I am a big believer in self help through art. Actually, I prefer to call it self care rather than help because it just sounds better to me. To me, the word “help” implies that you have something about yourself that you need to fix. Whereas the word “care” feels more like something necessary but natural that you do to increase your general well being.
The health benefits that art provides are ones that I speak of through personal experience. Art and writing have always been a source of real friendship for me. I was a shy kid who had to move around a lot due to my military family. So art and books became reliable for me. I did not feel that I could depend on my surroundings but my art supplies and my books never went anywhere. And even when I did finally use up pencils or paints or paper, it seemed easy enough to acquire more to continue.
If you find yourself in a similar mindset or are just wanting to self care through art, I offer the following points to help you along in your creative journey.
Increase Positive Emotions
The wonderful thing about creating a piece of artwork or writing a story is the uplifting emotions that it brings along with it. There is a letting go in the moment you begin to create. Your focus shifts from the everyday, possibly mundane or worrisome aspects of life to something that is bigger than that. Suddenly, the grocery list or whether or not the dog was walked twice today is not on the foreground any longer. It’s become the background. You are thinking more about what subject you are capturing, the colors, the shapes, the feeling. The feeling is what is more important. If you are creating something really dear to your heart, something you are grateful for or even something you’d like to see in your future, you are supercharging your positivity. Always pay attention to your inner state, because what may work one day, may not necessarily work another. Then, you have to change, according to your mood and heart.
And hopefully, when you come back to the every day world, you won’t find that the dog has peed all over your living room! 😀
Something that always happens to me when I am in the midst of creating, is that if I am upset about something, worried about something, or just whining in my brain about something, art or writing will not only take my mind off of it, but take a lot of it away from me altogether. Even when I’m not upset, working on a piece of artwork or a story will feel like some sort of release to me. Like my mental and emotional state just got a cleaning.
Working on anything art related has the effect of stirring up all sorts of “what ifs” in me. In fact, I don’t even need to be actively working on something at all to get inspired. I might come across someone’s else work and suddenly want to try a new medium. Or I might not even be anywhere near something having to do with art! I could be scrubbing the kitchen floor and think, “Hey! The color in that tile would be the perfect shade in that drawing I just did yesterday.” Weird things like that. That’s the thing about creativity and inspiration. It just happens. But it’s much more likely to happen when you are doing art because you’ll usually want more.
If you are a total beginner at art, you may have a few episodes where you throw the paintbrush or pencil across the room in frustration. But this is normal. (Sometimes, it still happens even after you are more experienced.) Give it time though, unless your heart is sincerely not into it. You’ll know, especially if you are flinging stuff left and right at every single session.
Sense of Accomplishment
You don’t have to finish something for there to be that glowing sense of satisfaction. I get a feeling of accomplishment even if it’s one of those days where I had only a minute to do anything art related and all I got to add was five pencil lines. I may not get as a big of a feeling than if I were to have a good solid hour or completely finish something. But I do think and feel, “Yay! At least it has those five pencil lines that weren’t there before.”
I don’t focus too much on the actual finishing of a project though, especially if it’s a larger piece or a whole novel. If I think too much about “finishing” my work suffers because I am impatient. Concentrate on the smaller things, because they will add up to the big one.
This may sound strange but you can find a lot of meaning in life by doing art. You look at the world differently because now it is the subject of your inspiration. If you are writing, you can sometimes go even deeper because you start having to explain why it is that your characters act the way that they do.
Because you begin to “study” everything that surrounds you, you begin to receive insights from the mysterious workings of life. Of course, when I am on the lookout, they don’t seem anywhere to be found. They usually come when I’m not even thinking about them. Ah, the paradox of the universe.
The cool thing about art is that you can express what can be difficult to put into actual words. Also, some things are just easier to express within art or aren’t the kind of thing that you would go around spouting to everyone over and over. For instance, if you love and adore elephants, you might tell someone you hadn’t met before that you love them. But you probably don’t go around telling everyone twenty times a minutes this fact about yourself. You might wear a t-shirt, or a hat with a trunk sticking out of it. Or you might make an entire series of paintings on elephants. Without saying a word, you have told the entire world that you are crazy about elephants!
But what if you want to express something like “truth” or “enlightenment”? Well, you can do that in art. Through use of colors, shapes and medium, you can make your audience feel exactly what it is you feel.
Copes with Grief or Loss
This benefit is especially close to my heart. If you have read my About Me page, you know that I have had a significant loss in my life recently. And as always, I have found my artwork and my books to step forward and allow me some comfort. All of the points I have mentioned above, especially finding meaning in life and reducing my stress come together to help me cope with this unfair turn of events.
Some might think that my work could come out dark or muddled after such a traumatic time. But that doesn’t really happen to me. I tend to take the negativity that I feel and transform it into what I would rather see. Lately, because of this loss I’m sure, my work has begun to move from depicting what is right in front of me to that of imagination. Why? Because it helps me cope.
Connecting to Yourself
Coming to this benefit, I feel like this might ultimately be the most important. All of the other ones are very important but this one takes every single one and wraps it up into one big hug for you. That is what doing art or writing stories feels like to me. Like I not only understand the world around me, but I better understand myself. We are complicated beings, capable of so much love and…well, not so much love. If I can help offer one more way to connect with the workings of you, through the ways that have helped me, then I am even happier.
If art speaks to you, do art and make it a regular part of your day. You won’t regret it – it’s a chance to be just YOU.