The short, dark days of winter are notorious for bringing us down. Once the fun of the festive season is behind us, January and February stretch ahead of us. That’s when the blues can really kick in. For most of us, it isn’t clinical depression or seasonal affective disorder. We’re just down in the dumps.
Learning a new art technique or practicing a familiar one is a great way to lift ourselves up. Making art isn’t just something to keep children busy when the weather is bad. It’s good for us adults.
Taking an art class does more than get you out of the house and into a social setting to have fun. (Although that’s plenty of goodness right there.) Making art benefits our bodies and our brains. Art therapy is an established treatment to help patients with a variety of emotional difficulties and mental health diagnoses.
A 2010 article by the American Public Health Association includes research stating that “Engagement with creative activities has the potential to contribute toward reducing stress and depression and can serve as a vehicle for alleviating the burden of chronic disease.”
But you don’t have to be suffering from an illness to benefit from art. All of us can enjoy the feel-good factor of creating something ourselves. Whether we curl up with the newly popular adult colouring books and a set of pencils or go out and take a course in painting or drawing, we can all make art. It doesn’t matter what form of art you try – painting, pottery, drawing, craft making all provide a boost to our mood. It’s the combination of creation, movement and self-expression that feel so good.
We all knew it was fun when we were children. It’s only as teens and adults that we start to deprive ourselves and let our worries about being “good enough” rob us of the pleasure of brushing paint or sweeping a pen across a page.
We uncritically love the artwork the children in our lives make simply because it represents them and their creative imaginations. Wouldn’t it be amazing to extend that same uncritical loving embrace to our own efforts?