Person painting
How Art Can Boost Your Mental Health | Dr. Arturo Osorio

Engage Art | Artist to Artist, Reflection & Growth | January 10, 2022

As we begin a New Year, many minds turn to new resolutions, new habits, and new goals. We're sharing this guest post to encourage you to engage art in new ways this year and care for your mental health. 

Taking care of your mental health is one of the most fundamental aspects of living a long and healthy life. When you neglect your mental health, you are more likely to struggle in other areas, including relationships with loved ones, professional focus, and even setting goals for the future. 

Making art is an important strategy to boost your mental health. When you engage art, your emotional well-being reaps a host of benefits. 

Relieve Stress

Stress is one of the biggest contributors to developing a mental health disorder. Seeking refuge from stress is not always easy, or even possible, especially if you have many responsibilities and already lead a hectic lifestyle. Art provides a powerful relief valve for anxiety and stress. The act of creating allows you to let go and get lost in the process of creation itself. Artwork becomes, in part, a time of reflection, prayer, and contemplation—so important to cultivating your mental health. Taking time to reflect is much easier without distractions, which is why many find art so therapeutic. 

Redirect Your Focus

Focusing on the wrong things can lead anyone down a dark path. If you find yourself stuck on the negatives surrounding you, ruminating at length on places you feel stuck or lost, art can allow you to search for the light and reflect on the opportunities, connections, and blessings in your life.

Art forms—such as painting, drawing, or blowing glass—all provide an opportunity to redirect your focus. Choosing to be engaged in your present moment and stay focused only on what is right in front of you can help you to better manage the stressors that are causing your mental health to suffer.

Embrace Self-Discovery

Self-discovery is one of the cornerstones of art. As an artist moves through the world, their artwork reflects their perspective. Many artists also use their art as a forum to process their emotions and experiences. Whether you are addressing childhood trauma or just responding to a bad day, sometimes a blank canvas is a perfect medium to deal with things that are not easy to express verbally. 

Find Purpose and Direction

Art can help you to find purpose and direction in your life. If you are feeling lost, alone, vulnerable, and directionless, pick up a pen—or a paintbrush. Expressing yourself through different art forms can “paint a better picture” of how you view your life, the outside world, and even your mental health and wellbeing. Reflecting on your behaviors, decisions, and future goals can help you to metaphorically gain self-awareness–a sense of who you are and where you are headed.

Explore New Artistic Realms

Whether you explore dancing, songwriting, photography or sketching, exploring new art forms and genres can support your unique journey of self-discovery. Whether you are a seasoned artist or you’ve never picked up a paintbrush before, art invites you to explore a myriad of new realms right in the comfort of your home. You do not need to have experience, specific skills, or talent of any kind. 

The great thing about art is there are endless types to choose from. Don’t love painting? Give drawing a try. Hate knitting? Why not take a pottery class instead? Which type of art ignites a fire in your soul? What medium are you most attracted to trying out for yourself? Try something new, and pay attention to what brings you joy and engages your whole self.

The Creative Process

Simply enjoying the experience is part of the process of creating and understanding art.  Taking the time to create without pressures or deadlines gives you the freedom to make the artistic choices you want. As you pursue your craft, experimenting with new approaches and expanding your skillset, you will find your self-esteem and confidence growing as well. 

When you become more comfortable with yourself, know your strengths, and are ready to set goals for growth and improvement, it is easier to tackle harmful habits like dwelling on negative feelings.

Importance of Good Mental Health

I hope this article encourages you to engage art today. If you are struggling with anxiety, depression, or another mental health disorder, give art a try. You never know the good it will bring you until you start. Though it might be most helpful in conjunction with professional therapy or a program, art contains the power to help you express and work on yourself.

About the Author

Dr. Arturo Osorio is a licensed physician practicing in Nicaragua. Dr. Osorio went to Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua (León), where he was awarded a Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery Degree. He has been practicing medicine in public hospitals and private clinics since 2018.

You can read more about mental health and the arts in our earlier article “Music & Writing When Times Feel Heavy.” We also encourage you to explore the Engage Art App for daily inspiration and encouragement.

Submit Your Artwork Today!

Curious? Interested in submitting artwork to our contest? Know someone who might be? Through April 14th, 2022, the Engage Art Contest is open to the whole world! Get your foot in the door by claiming your Artist Page now!