“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
from Thomas Merton’s No Man Is An Island
Wellness is not exclusively about exercise and being ailment free. Wellness is about disconnecting from stressful things and reconnecting with stuff that recharges and reinvigorates you. This includes anything and everything that adds to your sense of well-being. Working on art can contribute substantially to a sense of well-being. The American Public Health Association suggests “there is evidence that engagement with artistic activities, either as an observer of the creative efforts of others or as an initiator of one’s own creative efforts, can enhance one’s moods, emotions, and other psychological states as well as have a salient impact on important physiological parameters.” The creative process can be an outlet for stress relief and a way to look inward at the same time.
It doesn’t have to be a specific art form as there are plenty from which to choose. Crafts, painting, sculpture, music, design, cloud naming, writing, drawing, photography, performance art, theater, installation, and new media are all creative outlets that can add to wellness. The thought of being creative can overwhelm people, too. For those non-creative types, patronage can be the way to go. Supporting your local artists is a fantastic way to foster wellness. Austin has its own Opera, Symphony, Ballet, and award winning Choir. There’s also a booming art scene with galleries spread all over town. Supporting your local art crowd is important and also beneficial to both the artist and audience.
But if you’re one of those people who says they have no artistic bones, or you’re one of those artists that struggles with inspiration, desire, and self-worth, this message of encouragement is meant for you. Do everything you can to create something. Do everything you can to create ANYTHING. Get those hands dirty! Write a two-word poem! Paint a dot on a scrap piece of wood! Sing your favorite tune in a weird key! Wear something handmade! Make up words! Don’t be critical, be creatical! There is plenty of research on the health benefits of art and its impact on overall wellness. Plus, you might discover that you have a knack for art. And if you discover that you don’t have a knack for art, you might just enjoy yourself. Win.