Art for wellbeing – Why art benefits your mental health

Paintbrushes

Art and mental health have been closely linked throughout history, with artists and writers exploring darker aspects of the human mind, despite the stigma surrounding mental illness in the past.

“I put my heart and my soul into my work, and lost my mind in the process.”
— Vincent Van Gogh

Visual artwork tends to be the translation and expression of raw emotion onto a canvas. Throughout history, mental illnesses have been projected through artwork by many renowned artists including Van Gough.

Even though depression, anxiety, angst, grief, and loneliness are common in people’s lives, many of us find it difficult to discuss these problems, and art can be a powerful tool to express emotions.

The relationship between the arts and mental health is well established in the field of art therapy, which applies arts-based techniques as evidence-based interventions for mental health issues. It is no surprise that art therapy has become a frequently used form of psychotherapy to encourage expression and communication. Aimed at people struggling with emotional, behavioural, or mental health problems, the process of creating art helps process feelings whilst also reducing stress and anxiety and increasing increase self-esteem.

We can use art and creativity in many ways. Whether it is physically creating something, taking photos, or just appreciating a piece of art in a museum, there is creativity in every aspect of daily life, and being creative can take our minds away from daily worries or stress. These forms of art create conditions for mindfulness by accessing and engaging different parts of the brain through conscious shifting of mental states.

So, this week, why not take some time for yourself and engage in some form of art? You could create a doodle a day expressing your emotions, visit a local art gallery or museum, or even go for a walk and enjoy some of the mural paintings local to you.

If you’re feeling low with everything going on in the world right now, remember, we are here to help you at Step One Charity. We have a wide range of free mental health and wellbeing courses, workshops and peer support groups for people across Devon to access.

Our Tuesday Peer Support Group in Paignton is focused on crafting, so why not put your artistic skills to the test and get involved with the group, or just come along for a coffee and a chat? It‘s the perfect way to meet with others who can personally relate to your experiences.

If you’re interested in learning more about self-help techniques to help cope with depression for yourself or when helping to support others, explore our Wellbeing & Resilience and Understanding Depression courses.

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