Are you one of those people who doodles while you’re on the phone or hums while you’re washing dishes? Do you fill your journal with all of your thoughts, goals and dreams? If any of these apply to you, keep doing them – it’s good for your health.
Health is more than the absence of disease. It is a state of wholeness, based on physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. There is evidence that engaging in artistic activities – like music, visual art, movement or creative writing – can help you emotionally and physically. It helps to reduce stress and anxiety and has been shown to alleviate symptoms associated with depression.
Do you notice that little boost you get when your favorite song comes on the radio? Music has a soothing capacity – it has been shown to decrease anxiety and fill you with positive emotions. In clinical studies, music is used to help people manage chronic pain and restore emotional balance. It has also been proven to benefit the immune system.
Music has never been more accessible. In today’s world, you can turn on the radio, pull up your favorite artist on Pandora, livestream on your laptop or break out your iPod and earbuds. You can use music to help motivate you to exercise, tend to household chores, or finish your work. You can also use music to celebrate your progress, like buying tickets to a live concert when you achieve a goal you’ve been working towards.
Visual art is also beneficial to your health. Painting, drawing and sculpting helps people communicate ideas that are hard to think about or difficult to put into words. It’s a safe place to put intense emotions when you are going through a difficult time, or dealing with past trauma. Making visual art helps you to focus on something positive and can enhance your self-worth by providing you with an opportunity to challenge yourself and achieve artistic goals. If you don’t know where to start, look for a class at a community recreation center or begin working with an art therapist.
Expressive movement has been used for centuries to connect the mind and body. Perhaps you would enjoy taking dancing lessons, or enrolling in a yoga or tai chi class? Movement of mind and body helps to release stress and anxiety. It can also improve physical symptoms and increase your range of motion. People who move regularly report improvements in quality of life, body image and self-awareness. They feel more grounded in their bodies and enjoy better sleep.
Creative writing is another form of artistic experience that benefits your health. You don’t need any fancy equipment or supplies to start writing – just put pen to paper and get going! Individuals who have written about their own traumatic experiences show significant improvements in various measures of physical health, reductions in visits to physicians and gain a boost to their immune systems. Writing about your feelings can help with pain management and depression. Journal writing has been linked to creativity, spiritual awareness and self-growth.
Some people use poetry to find their writer’s voice. It helps them gain access to a kind of wisdom that is inaccessible in ordinary language. A simple but challenging form of poetry is the Japanese haiku [pronounced “Hi-coo”]. Haiku poetry only allows the use of seventeen syllables in three lines of text for the entire poem – five in the first line, seven in the second, and five in the third. Haiku traditionally evokes images of the natural world. Check out this resource for more information about haiku and other creative writing ideas!
Contact Community Reach Center to get involved in a treatment plan that uses your creativity to manage your health. Visit us at www.communityreachcenter.org to learn more about our services. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, call Colorado Crisis Services for 24-Hour assistance: (844) 493-8255 (TALK) or dial 911 for emergency assistance.