Creating art- such as drawing, painting, writing, music, performing arts, sculpting, knitting, or woodworking- has shown to decrease mental health issues including anxiety and depression. A list of resource links is provided below, as well as basic techniques to reduce stress.
Research into arts and mental health
“Limit language: Try not to talk when you are making art, and if you are listening to music, choose something without lyrics. The parts of the brain activated during visual art are different than those activated for speech generation and language processing. Give those overworked parts of the mind a break, and indulge in the calm relaxation that comes from doing so. The neurochemicals that are released feel good, and that is your brain’s way of thanking you for the experience.”
- “Bringing nature into the home elevates moods, and one of the most effective ways to do with is through the use of house plants and flowers. Studies from Texas A&M conclude that the presence of plants improved concentration and memory retention and reduce stress.”
Artistic Steps to Take to Improve Mental Health
Self-Care to Improve Mental Health
Mindfulness: Mindfulness is stepping back from your work and becoming aware of your surroundings and yourself.
Take a step back from technology or other distractions and just be present in your environment. Notice your room, the color of the walls, the way furniture is arranged. Listen to your environment, near and far, such as the fridge running, or a car off in the distance. Pay attention to smells and what you’re touching. Don’t forget to check in on your mental health. What are you feeling mentally?
Take this practice with you on walks. Go for a walk, not for the sake of exercise but to be mindful. What colors are the houses? What trees are around (notice their bark and leaves)? Any interesting scents? What do you hear?
Breaks: If you’re running your day from motion to motion, take a break. A good idea is to take at least a ten-minute break between long periods of work (1 hour of work, 10-15 minutes of break). Don’t do chores during these breaks, but something that makes you feel good, such as listening to a song or walk around the building you’re in.
Hobbies: Pick up a hobby that can make you happy. You don’t have to be better at it than other people, just good enough for yourself. Do something that includes progress that you can feel good about, whether it involves an art form, board games, engaging with nature, or another mindful activity.