Living a healthy and happy life has no procedure or a manual of guidelines to it. It is a lifestyle, not a process. Today, we have confused the definition of a happy life with how wealthy we are and how many trips can we afford in a year. However, a healthy lifestyle is all about being content in what you do and breathing in a stress-free air.
A major part that we ignore or rather avoid is the importance of art and how effortlessly it contributes to our well-being. Art, in any form, be it writing, sketching, painting, drawing, dancing, absolutely anything has proven to be a great stress-buster. Let’s understand how experts and artists relate art with well-being.
When we mention well-being here, we mean how emotionally, spiritually, and mentally your thoughts are aligned. Being content with oneself is a journey, not a destination. On your journey to contentment and well-being, you’ll face many hurdles. To name a few, stress, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, confusion, losing focus, subconscious unawareness, and many more. This is where art steps in and plays a major role.
Many people have a misconception that to be an artist, one has to be born with that talent or learn it intricately. However, when it comes to any form of art rejuvenating your mind on a hectic day, you needn’t be a professional at it. No one is born with that talent. Artists develop that skill over a period of time and genuinely fall in love with that specific art.
Activities like painting, sculpting, drawing, and photography are relaxing and rewarding hobbies that can lower your stress level and leave you feeling mentally clear and calm. Creating art provides a distraction, giving your brain a break from your usual thoughts. The average person has 60,000 thoughts per day and 95% of them are exactly the same day in, day out. When you get totally immersed in a creative endeavour, you may find yourself in what’s known as “the zone” or a state of “flow.” This meditative-like state focuses your mind and temporarily pushes aside all your worries.
Leonardo da Vinci proclaimed that “Painting embraces all the ten functions of the eye; that is to say, darkness, light, body and colour, shape and location, distance and closeness, motion and rest.”
Creating art trains you to concentrate on details and pay more attention to your environment. In this way, it acts like meditation. A popular art trend for stress relief is adult colouring books. This idea was first popularised in France, a country that’s number one in per capita of people suffering from stress and heart diseases. Some colouring books are created with stress relief in mind and have become an acceptable adult form of artistic expression. Many artists and art therapists are supportive of the movement and would like to see colouring become a gateway to reach those who could benefit from art therapy.
How Art Affects the Brain: Increased Connectivity and Plasticity:
Every time you engage in a new or complex activity, your brain creates new connections between brain cells. Your brain’s ability to grow connections and change throughout your lifetime is called brain plasticity. Creating art stimulates communication between various parts of the brain.
In this way, creating art has been proven to increase psychological and emotional resilience and resistance to stress.
How Art Makes Children Better Students for Life:
Educators and parents alike have long suspected that music and arts programs make better students. Children with musical training perform better in math, language, and reading. Early music lessons enhance brain plasticity and increase blood flow to the brain. This theory is backed by science as well.
Art Eases the Burden of Chronic Health Conditions:
Millions of people deal with chronic health conditions and the stress, anxiety, and depression that accompany them. Studies show that music and visual arts affected patients in these positive ways:
Art let patients forget about their illness for a while, allowing them to focus on positive life experiences. Creating art enabled them to maintain the identity of who they were before they got sick. Creative pursuits gave them a sense of achievement. The creation process helped patients express their feelings. Art reduced stress by lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Art used as therapy has successfully helped people with anxiety, depression, addictions, PTSD, chronic pain, cancer, high blood pressure, bipolar disorder, dementia and Alzheimer’s, and other serious physical and mental health conditions.
Art offers an outlet and a release from all of that. Take a minute to ignore all of the incoming signals and create an outgoing one instead. Produce something. Express yourself in some way. As long as you contribute rather than consume, anything you do can be a work of art. Build something. Share something. Craft something. Make more art. The graph of your health and well-being will gradually move upwards and your journey to contentment will be more creative, artistic, and smooth.
This World Health Day, let’s promise ourselves to inculcate art in our daily lives and slacken all the negativity around us.
The writer is Krupa Shah Abstract artist (Views Are Personal)