Whenever people struggle with their mental wellbeing, they seek ways to pull themselves out of the darkness inside their minds.
Something that’s often recommended for those trying to fight anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues is art. Whether that be creating it or looking at it, connections are frequently made between art and its ability to improve mental wellbeing. Is there genuinely a connection there, though?
The short answer is yes. If you need a deeper explanation than that, consider these points.
It’s A Form Of Expression
Modern art isn’t always the easiest thing to interpret. Sometimes, the only person who truly understands what a piece of work represents is the one who created it. That’s okay, though.
First and foremost, art is a form of self-expression, and so it shouldn’t matter what anyone else makes of it. As long as you’ve put out what you wanted to, all other opinions fall to the wayside.
This ability to create something unique out of your thoughts and feelings can be incredibly cathartic. The canvas provides a space for the dark things festering inside you so that you don’t have to deal with them in your head all the time. The fact that creativity and dopamine are potentially linked suggests that artists can, therefore, derive pleasure and satisfaction from expressing their complex and painful emotions.
There Are No Boundaries
What constitutes art has always been incredibly broad. However, it’s only with modern art that people have really started to think outside of the box with their creativity. That transition is what’s really beneficial to those who struggle with their mental wellbeing.
While the act of creating something can focus the mind and ease certain troubles, there’s a difference between drawing a realistic picture and painting something that’s a lot harder to interpret. Jessica Hendrickx is someone who specializes in the latter, and her view on her work excellently explains why modern art is so good for the mind.
She says she loves to create abstract pieces because there are no rules, expectations, or reality. Without those hurdles, she’s better able to invoke the imagination and provide herself with more opportunities to express herself in ways she can’t with words. For anyone who doesn’t know how to talk about what’s going on in their head, that perspective can really make a difference.
You can learn more about Jessica’s view on art and see some of her creations at LittleLeloo.
The Science Backs It
For years, experts have conducted studies looking into the impact of art on mental health. More often than not, this research has produced findings that support the notion that being creative can improve both a healthy and a troubled mind.
For instance, one study looked into how mindfulness-based art therapy – i.e. art combined with mindfulness exercises – can reduce anxiety. They found that such strategies can aid with wellness and provide people with adaptive responses to stress, thereby improving their mental wellbeing.
Other studies have analyzed how art can help people cope with depression or how it can reduce cognitive impairment in those over 70. This is just a handful of the research that’s been done, but they show exactly how influential art can be on the mind.
As with any coping strategy, art will help some people with mental health struggles more than others. However, for the most part, it should still have a positive effect on everyone, no matter how big or small.