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The Profound Impact of Art on Mental Health

Jane Hudson 28 Jun 2018

In February 2017 it was reported by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that nearly 7.5% of the Indian population have acquired a minor or major mental health condition that requires medical intervention. While conventional mental health treatments are plentiful, they are not embraced by everyone, both due to the severe stigma still attached to mental illness and the repudiation often associated with such conditions. While professional medical intervention should not be disregarded under any circumstances, it is valuable to know how one of life’s simplest sensory pleasures, art, can boost mental health and negate many of the symptoms associated with common mental health conditions including anxiety and depression.

Art relieves stress & depression

Creating art, whether through painting, sculpting or drawing, supplies your brain with a much-needed break from its customary thought patterns. When a person gets completely engrossed in a creative pastime, it is often said that he enters an almost-meditative state, one which is free of all tensions and worries. Art fundamentally trains your mind to focus on the here-and-now, forgetting what is perturbing you and making you feel significantly less anxious. According to a global study by the American Art Therapy Association entitled ‘Reduction of Cortisol Levels and Participants’ Responses Following Art Making’, as little as 45 minutes of creative activity, regardless of skill level, can significantly reduce stress in the body. One of the most popular artistic stress relievers of the past few years are undoubtedly adult colouring books that are being punted specifically for their stress-relieving properties.

Art can boost one’s self-esteem

It makes absolutely no difference what type of art you choose to create, or how well you create it, the sense of accomplishment you experience once your piece is complete will boost your self-esteem significantly. The feeling is very similar to the pride a child experiences when you put his art piece on display on the mantelpiece, it doesn’t matter that his sculpture was lopsided, what matters is that he made it with his own hands, from start to finish, and you valued it enough to put it on display.

Image : Jeremy Galliani at unspalsh.com

Art can improve your emotional health

Did you know that you don’t even to engage in art yourself to reap the benefits? Studies have indicated that simply looking at visual art can stimulate the areas of the brain responsible for emotional processing. When we view art our brains are triggered to anticipate and make connections, both consciously and subconsciously, making us feel happy and rewarded. Despite whether your response to the art you are viewing is jovial, glum or contemplative, it is extremely beneficial to your mental health to process these emotions.

Regardless of whether you choose to physically engage in it, or merely view the magnificent work of others, art can go a long way in boosting your mental health. While no holistic approach to any mental health condition, should replace conventional therapy, art and its countless benefits can still fully be embraced and enjoyed for the unsurpassed beauty it bestows upon the world.

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