How art can reduce anxiety and depression – a guest blog by Katlyn Oliver

An inspiring and insightful guest blog from Katlyn Oliver. With experience in art-based counselling, she is passionate about the positive impact of creativity on wellbeing.

How art can reduce anxiety and depression

Studies show that both creating and viewing art can be enormously beneficial to mental health. As such, art therapy is being used more than ever before in healthcare to help people manage symptoms of anxiety and depression that may be associated with other health conditions, as well as delivering session specifically targeted towards those battling solely with mental health issues.

Art therapy is having a huge impact

A well-known arts and mental health charitable organisation called Arts and Minds has been running a weekly workshop for people with depression since 2017. Studies showed outstanding results, with 71% of people experiencing a decrease in feelings of anxiety and 73% a fall in depression. The results speak for themselves, one participant commented: “I feel so much better having made the time and space to do some art. It makes such a difference”.

How art can boost our mood

Even just viewing art, let alone creating it, can have a significant impact on our mood and well-being. Research shows that viewing great works of art, just like seeing beautiful scenes in nature triggers the release of powerful mood enhancing neurochemicals in our brains. In fact, anything that is capable of eliciting feelings of awe and wonder in us has a positive effect on mental health, and great works of art as well as the beauty of the natural world are two of the most powerful sources of inspiration and motivation for people. According to psychologists: “Awe has many important implications for our well-being… Experiencing awe can give us a sense of hope and provide a feeling of fulfilment.”

Creating and displaying art at home

Hanging some of your favourite works of art on the wall that inspire feelings of calm and awe can help create a serene and positive environment in your home. Our environment has a huge impact on us, so making your living space a nice and comfortable one to be in is really important for well-being.

It may be that you need to do a bit of decluttering, brighten the place up with flowers or burn some of your favourite incense to soothe or enliven the senses, whatever you think your place needs, all these little touches will make a difference to your well-being in the place where it matters the most. You could even consider an indoor water feature, there are many different designs, and not only are they beautiful to look at, but the sound of water really helps to soothe and ease feelings of anxiety.

Being immersed in the creative process

Getting into the habit of creating art at home, perhaps working on a drawing or a painting, even for as little as 30 minutes a day or just a few times a week, will over time have a big impact on mental health. Being immersed in the creative process is a very calming and therapeutic activity that helps clear the mind of any every-day thoughts, worries or concerns. The need to pay attention to detail when creating roots us in the present moment, which can help us learn to become more mindful over time and to keep our mind more still and calm for longer periods.

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