The creative arts are often developed from an interest or hobby. Not only does it provide another form of expression and an avenue to unleash creativity and imagination, it is thought that artistic expression can contribute to the maintenance of positive identity and happiness. Creative pursuits such as writing, acting, drawing or dancing can benefit physical and mental wellbeing, as well as providing enjoyment and delight.
Here are several ways the creative arts can improve mental health:
Music is well known for regulating mood – it can calm us, pick us up or heal us. It calms the neural activity in the brain and helps to restore effective functioning in the immune system, as researched by Nobel and Stuckey. Music therapy has been shown to decrease anxiety, and the pleasure created in the healing process can restore emotional balance. Research has also found that music improves learning – individuals with musical training have improved connectivity between the two hemispheres of their brains.
Relaxing activities like painting, sculpting and drawing can lower stress levels and leave your mind clear and calm. Being immersed in a creative endeavour gives your mind a much-needed distraction from your daily thoughts and creates a meditative like focus as your worries are temporarily pushed aside.
Art also enhances problem-solving skills. There is no correct answer in art, so creative thinking and unique solutions are encouraged. Out-of-the-box thinking stimulates your brain to use whole brain thinking, which increases learning ability.
Drawing, painting, or moulding objects from clay has been scientifically proven to help people to deal with different kinds of trauma. Art can help us put difficult or challenging emotions and experiences into words. A psychiatric ward in London was given a makeover with donated artworks to help assist patients’ recovery goals of making friends and participating in meaningful activity. The artwork sparks conversation and elicits a response from residents, which is usually difficult. The aesthetic and therapeutic benefits of the art have been recognised as improving wellbeing in the ward.
Storytelling and expressive writing has the writer narrate an event and explain its effects. This can help the writer make sense of any negative experiences in a personal way. Writing about these events and integrating these situations into their own life’s story creates meaning for the event. Whilst this process can be difficult and emotional in the short term, it can be rewarding and beneficial to their mental health in the long term.
Similarly, documenting positive experiences and writing about one’s ‘best-self’ can increase psychological wellbeing.
As dancing is a physical and creative endeavour, it has many physical benefits. The NHS state that, “regular dancing is great for losing weight, maintaining strong bones, improving posture and muscle strength, increasing balance and co-ordination, and beating stress.” The physical exertion combined with concentration provides a rewarding physical and mental release.
At Christ Church Grammar School, The Wynne Centre for Boys’ Health and Wellbeing is centred around providing holistic good health and wellbeing for boys. Social and emotional competency is associated with greater wellbeing and better school performance. If you would like to learn more, download our prospectus.