The creative arts can provide numerous benefits for people living with mental health conditions. Research has shown that engaging in any creative process is healing. Whether you make a sketch in your drawing pad, choreograph dance moves to your favorite song, or spend some time learning a new instrument, the arts can help you to lower stress and anxiety, feel calmer and more relaxed, and can give you a sense of accomplishment.
The following are specific mental health benefits that creative outlets can provide:
Art: You don’t need to be Pablo Picasso to reap the therapeutic benefits of art. There’s a popular quote that says, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Whether you’re drawing, painting, sculpting, or expressing your creativity through another art form, it can be rewarding and productive. Often requiring intense focus, when you’re making art, you’re more likely to concentrate on the task at hand, helping to let go of your worries and troublesome thoughts.
Music: Depending on the type and style, music has been proven to reduce stress, induce a meditative state, and even relieve symptoms of depression. When you listen to your favorite songs, endorphins are released, your heart rate and breathing can be slowed, and your levels of stress-inducing cortisol can even decrease.
>>Read more about the connection between music and mental health
Dance: Dancing, whether serious or silly, is a positive outlet for our emotions. A 2012 Swedish study found that girls struggling with depression, stress, and anxiety who took weekly dance classes improved their mental health and reported a boost in mood—positive effects that lasted up to eight months after the classes ended.
>>Read more about the connection between dancing and mental health
Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed by feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression, pick a creative outlet that you relate to and spend half an hour solely focusing on it. After those thirty minutes, evaluate how you feel. Are you feeling more relaxed? Has it helped lessen your anxiety? If you want to give a voice to your mental health, share it with us using #SpeakUp.