• Rupa Parthasarathy

5 Ways in which creating art can boost your well-being.

Have you ever experienced the feeling of being

"in the moment"; the kind of mental space where things flow easily? A moment where you are enjoying the process of what you are doing. And not worrying or attaching thoughts to the outcome. A moment filled with glee, curiosity and absolute joy!

We often relate to these moments as "being in the zone". Kids are pretty intuitive when it comes to "being in the zone". They have a natural penchant for creative play, whether splashing paint randomly, swishing around with water, or sieving through the sand.

The "Being in the Zone" phenomenon is called a flow state. Engaging in creative activities can often get us to this flow state. Along with being a great mood booster, several mental health benefits exist.

Creating art helps cope with rumination, relieving stress:

An average human being has around 60,000 to 70,000 thoughts on any day (Bebrainfit, 2021). And only 10% of it works in our service. Have you ever wondered how a tiny hiccup you encounter, like running late or missing a train, suddenly makes you believe you are having a disastrous day? That's the power of automatic thoughts. You dwell on it for a while, and rumination becomes the side effect. Creating art helps you cope with automatic and ruminating thoughts. The best thing is you don't even have to be good at it. The mere act of engaging in creative play experimenting with the creative process is all it takes to alleviate stress.

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Creating art releases dopamine -"The feel-good" hormone:

Dopamine is the neurotransmitter, a chemical released by our brain when doing pleasurable things. It is the same hormone released after eating your favourite food or watching your favourite game. The hormone keeps us hooked on endless scrolling on social media and the validation received by counting likes and followers. Research (www.rtor.org, 2018) suggests that this hormone can help cope with anxiety and depression. Engaging in artmaking is a safe way to get a safe dose of "dopamine" hit. Besides relieving stress, engaging with art also helps improve our problem-solving abilities.


Creating art helps improve our self-esteem:

Self-esteem is our perception of our self-worth, our capabilities and our limitations. Our self-esteem is a prime influencer of our mental health, how we communicate, interact and engage with ourselves and others (healthdirect.gov.au, 2021). Having healthy self-esteem is paramount to dealing with life's adversities. When we engage with art and create a product, one derives a sense of validation. This validation helps us bolster our self-esteem.

Creating art helps us boost our imagination:

It is a common myth that only artistic people are creative. However, studies prove the opposite is true. The act of experimenting with artmaking helps unlock our imagination, enhancing our creativity. It encourages out of the box thinking. Engaging in any form of creative artmaking using a variety of mediums is a great way to access and unlock our inner creativity.

Creating art helps improve our brain plasticity:

One of my personal favourites is artmaking's effect on neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is our brain's ability to change and form new neural pathways, especially in response to learning or brain injuries. In an event organised by the University of Sydney, a panel of neuroscientists and art practitioners came together. They agreed that art can change our brains. And engaging in creative activities can be helpful with our mental well-being.

Several studies found that regular engagement with art can lessen our inhibitions. Lessening inhibitions can prove particularly useful for younger generations who often find it challenging to maintain interpersonal relationships.

While the above is undoubtedly an impressive list of benefits. As someone who loves artmaking and has witnessed its impact on mental well-being. One of the personal benefits I can vouch for is engaging with art is the easiest way to increase one's sense of curiosity, personal satisfaction and insight into ourselves.

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