Draw, sing or write your way to a happier you
According to The American Art Therapy Association (AATA), art therapy uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages. A recognized profession in the mental health field, art therapy began to emerge in the 1940s. Through creating art and reflecting on the art products and processes, the AATA states that people “can increase awareness of self and others, cope with symptoms, stress, and traumatic experiences; enhance cognitive abilities; and enjoy the life-affirming pleasures of making art”.
Art therapy isn’t meant to be just for artists. It’s not about how well you can draw, sculpt, write or paint, and it’s not about the finished product. It’s all about the process—it’s about expressing yourself and experiencing the sheer joy of an uninhibited act of creativity.1
According to Be Brain Fit, making art can:
- Enhance problem-solving skills
- Stimulate the imagination
- Make you more observant
- Boost self-esteem and provide a sense of accomplishment
- Reduce stress
- Enhance cognitive abilities and memory, even for people with serious brain conditions
You don’t need to have a serious illness to reap the benefits of participating in some form of artistic endeavor. Perhaps you just want to feel a little happier, or express yourself in a new way, or explore a side of you you’ve never had a chance to nurture.
Wander over to your local arts and crafts store and see what tickles your fancy! Pick up a sketchpad and some pencils, or maybe explore the world of watercolor or oil paints. You might also consider adding a social element to your own personal art therapy by signing up for an art class through your local community or art center.
f visual art isn’t your thing, get a journal and write one page a day, every day, about whatever pops into your head. Or make yours a “gratitude journal” that contains all the positive things that happen to you each day, no matter how small.
If painting and writing aren’t for you, sing! Join a glee club or choir, or just turn up the radio out belt out your favorite tunes.
Whatever form of expression you choose, enjoy the feeling of unbridled joy as you play, explore and create with art.
For more information on art therapy, including wonderful exercises you can try at home, visit PsychCentral.
Want more proof that art just feels good, no matter how old you are? This amazing video demonstrates how art therapy may help seniors, who are often struggling to cope with illness and loss, stay creative, vital and fulfilled through art.
Personal art therapy is not a substitute for proper medical assessment and care. If you are feeling emotionally overwhelmed and having difficulty functioning, it’s best to visit your doctor to discuss your situation with someone who can guide you towards a solution that’s right for you.
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