Art is its own language with a host of interpretations and methods of expression. And as it turns out, creativity — in any form — can boost well-being. This month, The Calli Institute team wanted to highlight how creativity promotes wellness and point out ways in which you can discover healing through art.

Mental Health Benefits of Art

One of the greatest things about art is that it’s subjective. What qualifies as art to one person may not seem artistic to someone else — but it only has to matter to that one person. Art is personal. It’s self-expression, and there is no right or wrong with this method of communication.

And when it comes to wellness, artistic expression opens the door to a whole world of mental health benefits:

  • Lowers stress levels. Projects like painting, drawing, coloring, or sculpting shift focus from external stressors and create an internal sense of calm. The detailed nature establishes a distraction from mental tension and pressure.
  • Boosts Self-Esteem. Creating something with your hands or from your own thoughts brings with it a sense of accomplishment. The brain’s release of dopamine motivates us to want to achieve goals and relish in the success of a job — or project — well done.
  • Promotes creative thinking. Artistic expression encourages creative thinking and heightens analytical skills. Your creation is your story, your path, or your solution. You determine the result, which allows the brain to have ultimate and unbridled freedom of thought.
  • Instills a greater level of happiness. Surrounding yourself with or creating art increases happiness and life satisfaction. That dopamine release helps to improve mood while looking at art promotes a soothing or comfortable feeling.

These are some of the most significant mental health benefits. And much like art, the list could go on and on. The important thing is to find what you enjoy and realize the advantages of artistic expression on your wellness. If you’re wondering where to start, we’ve got some ideas for you.

Adult Coloring Books

Once a favorite childhood activity, coloring has become a popular form of art for adults over the past several years. Maybe that’s because of the feeling of nostalgia. Or because it’s relaxing and fun. And it’s also therapeutic.

Adult coloring books can be simple, though most of the designs are highly detailed and intricate. But don’t feel overwhelmed by the specifics. Take your time and express your artistry however you like.

Coloring helps to quiet the mind and again shifts focus to the task at hand. Selecting the colors, determining what to color first, or figuring out patterns and directions triggers different parts of the brain, which helps to improve brain function and analytical thinking. This activity has also been known to create a sense of calm and reflection, putting the mind at ease and allowing you to be in the moment.

The Write Way to Wellness

Writing, or journaling, is another form of self-expression that can help improve wellness.

Everyone has a story to tell. Maybe your story involves a traumatic event that affects your mental health. Oftentimes, putting those thoughts into writing can help alleviate their intrusion on the mind. Once you put those feelings into words, you no longer need to hang onto them — or the weight they carry. You can begin to free yourself from the burden of that trauma and hopefully start to heal.

And since you’re the author, you have control over what happens, how you react, or how others react to you. You have the power to change the narrative and create an outcome that’s beneficial for you. Create the story you want to tell, whether or not anyone else reads it.

This is your story. Write it the way you want.

Music and Dance

Again, one of the great things about art is its expression in many forms, not just visual. Artistic performances like music and dance also provide mental health benefits, whether you’re participating in or simply observing them.

Playing or listening to music has been known to improve cognitive skills and memory. Fast-paced melodies can help improve mood and increase self-awareness. Attending concerts provides an opportunity to hear and feel music and connect with others who have similar interests.

Dancing’s rhythmic movement can provide a physical workout or a calming effect, depending on the tempo. Again, focusing on the steps, choreography, or music helps to drown out the rest of the world and any stressors associated with it.

Reach Out to Us

Simply put, art is a boundless expression of self that also promotes wellness. Once you discover healing through art, you’re on your way to a happier, healthier, and better version of yourself. And that’s what we’re all about. No matter how you choose to express yourself, our team at The Calli Institute is here to cheer you on. Feel free to reach out to us at any time.

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