The link between art, health and wellness
Updated: Jul 13, 2019
I always find it fascinating to read about the benefits creating art can have on our health and wellbeing. In recent months, in other blogs I’ve written about Art Therapy – how creating an art piece serves as a foundation for self-exploration, understanding, acceptance, healing and personal growth, as well as how embracing the highs and lows could actually stimulate expression and inspire artwork.
In 2017 a report produced by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing (APPG) stated that “…art can make a significant contribution to addressing a number of pressing issues faced by our health and social care systems…”
The report found that there are over 49,000 amateur art groups in England involving 9.4 million people that is 17% of the population. WOW! That is some figure and I’m sure that’s grown in the last two years.
Art therapies have also been found to alleviate anxiety, depression, and stress while increasing resilience and wellbeing. In Participatory Arts Programmes, they found that individuals and groups taking part in art activities in community locations, that after engaging with the arts, 77% engaged in more physical activity, and 82% enjoyed greater wellbeing.
Art has a huge, fulfilling and positive role to play in all our lives, our health and wellbeing. Whether it’s being part of an art group or a community programme, to engage in culture, socialise or beat loneliness, or to help us through mental or physical health and recovery, the benefits will help us be well, live longer and live happier.
I love this quote from Grayson Perry in the report that beautifully describes the very essence Art has on our wellbeing.
‘Art helps us access and express parts of ourselves that are often unavailable to other forms of human interaction. It flies below the radar, delivering nourishment for our soul and returning with stories from the unconscious. A world without art is an inhuman world. Making and consuming art lifts our spirits and keeps us sane. Art, like science and religion, helps us make meaning from our lives, and to make meaning is to make us feel better.’ Grayson Perry, Artist
I have struggled with anxiety for many years and, though Art is definitely up there for my wellness and managing my anxiety, in previous years, I found running a great help. It gave me focus, confidence, and allowed time for my mind to unravel, chance to rebuild myself and help me process and resolve issues I had at the time. I still run today.
I’m also part of a community choir. I love singing, Always have! My uni friends used to say to me, if they didn’t hear me singing in the art studio, they knew there was something wrong J. Singing really lifts my spirits and I get a great buzz out being part of something in the community. It’s not just going to sing (though this is a choir), but it’s the fun, the laughs, and the friends you make to. It really have enriched my life.
I was really nervous to start with but I knew that was more my anxiety talking. I knew I wanted and should take this opportunity, so when a friend asked to go with her, I did. I came away that first evening feeling genuinely happy that I’d gone. I felt alive, excited and full of energy.
For anyone thinking of joining a community activity and may be a bit nervous about making the first step, it was helpful for me to know a person who was already part of the group and go with them. Alternatively, you could go with another friend who wants to join, or speak to the organiser and ask for support when you turn up. What I learnt is its ok to feel nervous (you are not alone!) but try not to let this be the reason you don’t go, if it something you really want to do. Absolutely, give it a go! :-)
I can honestly say that I am a happier and stronger version of myself. Singing in a community choir, creating art, and running are definitely my ‘go-to’s’ for health and wellness.
What arty activities do you do for your wellness?
What are your ‘go-to’s’ for health and wellness?
Do you think you’ll try something Arty (if you’re not already) for your health and wellness?
This is a great illustration from @crazyheadcomics that show the hobbies that are good for your mental health.
Bye for now x
Explore more here:
Wave of Wellness – Facebook page
Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance: https://www.artshealthandwellbeing.org.uk/
Resources, toolkits and factsheet: https://www.culturehealthandwellbeing.org.uk/resources