“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”Pablo Picasso
So believed Pablo Picasso in his time. It seems Great Master then understood the real contribution the art can make to our health and wellbeing. The impact that scientists have only recently started discovering. The Healing power of Art. Here I mean both – simply observing Art and making Art. We all know – contacting with art creates relaxing, revitalizing experience, boosts mood, distracts from discomfort, eases suffering, and in general has a positive impact on our mental health.
The process of doing art – whether painting, writing, sculpting, dancing, whatever – is greatly connected to the psychology of our minds. Because every artist “dips the brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.” (Henry Ward Beecher)
Take singing, for example. Science has already shown that singing has a positive impact on psychological health, e.g. via reducing anxiety and depression. New mothers involved in the singing and music groups experience a faster reduction in post-natal depression symptoms. This happens primarily because when singing we breath deeper and slower. This supplies more oxygen to the brain and affects cardiac activity positively, synchronizes our breath, and heartbeats. Further, being part of the choir enables us to be braver and bolder, and more importantly, it switches the self-focused attention to the outer world.
Adult coloring books can decrease stress, depressive symptoms and anxiety and enhance relaxation and mindfulness.
Another study demonstrated that cultural engagement, such as singing, dancing, or visiting cinemas, theatre and museums, can reduce the onset and progression of depression in elderly. Yet another study reveals that couples who spend their time together visiting an art class, release oxytocin.
Visiting art classes creates social connections. Participation in arts‐based groups (like choir, creative writing, painting) is effective in improving mental wellbeing in people with chronic mental health problems when they identify with the group. People experiencing different mental health impairments (like, depression, anxiety, mood disorder, post-traumatic stress, etc) often report feeling loneliness and socially isolated. Such group activity enables people to get in touch with others and extend existing networks of support, helping to alleviate loneliness and isolation.
The idea of medically prescribed art – different art workshops or museum visits as part of treatment for people experiencing depression, anxiety and/or other mental health problems, is not completely new. For example, it is almost 10 years when arts is a core component of social prescribing in the UK government policy. This encompasses all kinds of human creativity including dancing, creative writing, forum theatre and object handling in museums. Canadian doctors are also about to have a new possible prescription for their patients: fine art – to prescribe patients free access to a local museum as a part of treatment.
“Art is something that makes you breathe with a different kind of happiness.”Anni Albers
We were all born artists, with an ability to create art, be it drawing or dancing, we just forgot this skill.. once we grew up….