How Art Can Improve Your Mental Health

Dr. Frank Clark decided to write his first poem when he was attending medical school with the goal of becoming a psychiatrist.

“Everything that’s been going on in my head, all the feelings that I’ve been feeling, now I just put it down on paper and I can speak with a pen,” he said, recalling his thoughts at the time.

At the time, he was struggling with depression and resorted to many things to keep his depression at bay, including running, therapy, medication, and faith.

“I had to find something else to fill that hole,” he said. It turns out that the missing piece in his “health puzzle” was poetry.

“I’ve noticed an improvement in my mood. It’s given me another outlet,” said Dr. Clark, who now sees patients in Greer, South Carolina.

The notion that art can improve mental well-being is something many people intuitively understand but can lose sight of. This is especially true for those who have become disconnected from their childhood hobbies such as dancing, creative writing, drawing, and singing.

But Jill Sonke, director of research at the University of Florida Medical Arts Center, suggests that not only creating artwork, but activities such as attending concerts and visiting museums are beneficial to mental health. There is solid evidence,” he said. .

Here are some easy ways to uplift your mood with art.

Dr. James S. Gordon, a psychiatrist and founder of the Center for Psychosomatic Medicine, developed what he called the “Three Drawing Technique.” This work appears in the new book Your Brain on Art: How the Arts Transform Us.

“In my experience, art like this goes beyond words to help us understand what’s happening to us and what to do about it,” Dr. Gordon says in his book. said inside.

You don’t have to be good at drawing. It’s okay to be a stickman.

Let’s start by drawing ourselves quickly. Don’t overthink it. The second figure should show the biggest problem. The third diagram shows the state after the problem has been resolved.

According to collaborator Susan Magsamen, assistant professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the exercises are intended to encourage self-discovery and give people ownership of their own healing. It can be done with or without a therapist. – Author of the book.

If you’re one of the many people interested in adult coloring books, it may come as no surprise that research suggests that this activity can help reduce anxiety.

For example, coloring within the lines of complex patterns seems particularly effective. a study What evaluates university students and what evaluates university students senior citizenSo, we found that spending 20 minutes coloring a mandala (a complex geometric pattern) was more effective at reducing anxiety than spending the same amount of free time coloring.

Susan Albers, a clinical psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic and author of 50 Ways to Calm Yourself Without Food, describes coloring as “a little vacation for the mind.” Focusing on the texture of the paper and choosing a color you love will help you eliminate distractions and help you focus on the present moment, she said.

“For people who don’t like meditation, this is a great form of meditation.”

Listening to music, playing an instrument, and singing are all beneficial. research result.

a 2022 surveyFor example, we surveyed more than 650 people in four age groups and asked them to rank the art activities that helped them “feel better” during the 2020 pandemic lockdown. The youngest participants, aged 18 to him 24, overwhelmingly rated the musical activity as most effective. “Singing” ranked high among activities in all age groups.

According to other studies, sing Levels of cortisol, a hormone that your body releases when you’re under stress, decrease.As One casemothers who had just given birth and regularly sang songs to their babies were less anxious.

Magsamen pointed out that music has a stress-reducing effect, such as rhythm, lyrics and chord repetition. Affects Multiple Areas of the Brain.

“I sing in the shower,” Magsamen said. “I will sing with all my might to the radio.”

Dr. Clark has been writing poetry since graduating from medical school, and has offered some tips for those looking to write poetry.

First, let go of the idea that you are not creative enough. “Often we think of ourselves as our worst critics,” he said. “I believe that anyone can write poetry.”

Dr. Clark suggested starting with a simple haiku. The haiku consists of only three of his lines, with his five syllables in the first and last lines, and his seven syllables in the middle.

Consider getting your friends involved too. 2020 paper It was published in the Journal of Medical Humanities, which explored the “healing power” of poetry.

The authors write: “Whether you read a poem once a week, share it with a friend, or just take 5-10 minutes to freely write about your favorite memories, current thoughts, worries, hopes, etc., all work well at first.” Steps to experience the benefits. “

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