Over recent years, there has been a growing understanding of the impact that taking part in the arts can have on health and well-being. By supplementing medicine and care, the arts can improve the health of people who experience mental or physical health problems. Engaging in the arts can promote prevention of disease and build well-being.
Many years ago Salmo Community Services hosted a project where many community members came into the centre to paint some old tables. I learned that art really brings people together. We had grandmothers and children and teenagers all working side-by-side creating something beautiful.
A bit later, at Selkirk College, our wellness council also recognized that art was a way for students and staff to sit together and unwind while people listened to music, ate good snacks and chatted. Some students said that Eat and Art events were some of their favourite moments at college. This short video explores some of the ways Kootenay artists and students keep their creative fires stoked and how art helps with health and happiness:
<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/147534495″>Staying Juicy: Keeping Creativity Alive</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user3457677″>Selkirk College</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
Now, I am working at a university in Central Asia and I am again amazed when I see a group of students come in and unleash their creative minds on our ART NIGHTS. I can see them soften and relax as they play with paints, scissors and paper. Again, there is usually music, food and conversation and it feels like we are rediscovering something humanity has always known – artistic expression is one of the building blocks of a healthy community.
Here are students, faculty and children all making art together in Kyrgyzstan:
Psychology Today magazine explores the interface of art and health in an article by a prominent art therapist, Cathy Malchodi:
I made the bold statement that “making art…may be as important to your health as balanced nutrition, regular exercise, or meditation.” While there were few studies to support this statement at that time, research over the past decade now indicates that I wasn’t that far-fetched in my audacity. Creativity is a wellness practice and we now know there are numerous reasons to make it part of your “wellness resolutions.”
It is your authentic expression through art making, music, song, movement, writing, and other forms of arts-based imagination that are central to the equation of why creativity is a wellness practice. So go make something and be well.
Cathy Malchiodi, PhD, LPCC, LPAT, ATR-BC, REAT, is an art therapist, expressive arts therapist, visual artist, research psychologist, and author in the fields of art therapy, trauma-informed practice, and art in healthcare.