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Art as Self-Care

Art as Self-Care
November 5, 2019 Heather Poole
Photo of an art display in UHMC Library

          What is self-care? Who is it for? It’s quite a buzz word these days and the idea behind it is that the better care we take of ourselves, the better we will feel and ultimately the more we will have to share. It’s a self-regulating method for well-being; self-initiated, deliberate and under our control, self-care is available to everyone.  How does art fit into this? To broaden the scope, let’s redefine art as creative activity, which everyone is capable of: thinking, writing, making art, and creating new ideas and solutions.

          In terms of art, it can help you to discover more of who you are, can change your perspective of the world, and helps you to express your unique identity.  This helps us all realize that everyone sees things from their own viewpoint and allows us to share this with others. Creativity is self-care because we tap into the deep well of our inner being and are nourished from within.  There’s no right or wrong art – it’s all valid, no tests or comparison. 

          Being creative, making ‘art’, allows you to be active; engaged kinesthetically, mentally, and emotionally and can bring relaxation and joy.  Creative activity uses different parts of the brain than the linear side and is a compliment to logically focused endeavors such as studying.  It’s been reported that cortisol (stress hormone) can be reduced after 45 minutes of ‘art making’.

          Art supports self-knowledge and awareness, plus it is fun.  When you make art, you are making individual and intuitive choices of what you like and following your feelings; thus what you make represents who you are.  Working individually with others creates a collaborative environment where each person can share their art with supportive.  Art also puts us in touch with the world around us.  It can shift the focus from ‘me’ to the world outside myself. This constitutes as self-care because as we pay attention to the world outside of ourselves, we become connected to it. 

          The smile in someone’s face, the light on a leaf, the color of the ocean which  gives us inspiration for a poem or song: any of these creative activities nourish us and stretch our minds and hearts with new perceptions, ideas and possibilities. It’s been shown that writing for as little as fifteen minutes a day can lower stress, alter mood, and increase mindfulness. So, pick up those crayons or colored pens and bring your inner and outer beauty alive.

For research related to art and creativity:

https://newatlas.com/creative-throught-brain-activity-networks/53025/

https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-is-writing-therapy-3227130

https://www.activebeat.com/your-health/children/7-ways-art-can-paint-a-healthier-picture-for-you/?utm_pagetype=long

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