Art can be used as a coping tool to diminish, accept, or express strong emotions as they arise, or it can be used as a preventative measure to develop stronger physical and mental health practices before difficult emotions arise (because they will). Developing your own arts practice can be a good way to develop both coping tools and preventative strategies, to improve your wellness in a multifaceted way. It is important to note that improving wellness is not necessarily the absence of mental and physical health conditions, but gives us an increased ability to manage them when they arise. Art engagement is a way to build resilience and improve overall wellbeing to help as we approach personal challenges.
Like any habit, practice makes perfect! You may want to start by simply exploring what forms of art you want to incorporate in your life. Maybe you love movies and music—try spending more time watching local theatre productions or attending live concerts. Maybe you enjoy being outside in nature—try expressing the way that nature makes you feel through writing or drawing. Some people enjoy more hands-on activities, such as cooking or pottery. You may want to consider a culinary or pottery class. Part of art is exploration! The first step to developing an art habit is to explore what activities are exciting and engaging for you. Make a list of activities big or small: What do you want to create?
Once your list is created, pick your favorite one and make a plan on how you’ll get started. Maybe you’ll need to make a supply list and collect your artistic tools. Or do some research online to gain inspiration by watching instruction videos by people interested in similar activities, or check out local classes, performances, and artistic resources in your community. Decide when/where you can engage in your art habit throughout the week, so you make a commitment to developing your art habit.
Oh, and lastly, be easy on yourself! Part of the process is trial and error. You don’t need to be a professional artist to experience the benefits of creativity because all sorts of art projects result in “feel good” hormones, regardless of outcome.1 You may want to consider developing an art habit as an experiment. What works for you and what doesn’t? What excites you and what tires you out? Finding your creative passions is part of the process of developing a strong, effective habit.
Some Ideas to Get You Started:
- Painting, drawing, coloring
- Listening to music, creating a playlist
- Playing an instrument
- Nature walks, dance, yoga
- Visiting museums, galleries, and public art pieces
- Join a group or take a class
- Journaling, poetry, storytelling
- Alban, D. (2020, May 06). The Mental Health Benefits of Art Are for Everyone. Retrieved July 01, 2020, from https://bebrainfit.com/benefits-art/