Making Art Is Good For Your Health. Here’s How To Start A Habit
Three years ago, I found myself floundering mentally, creatively, and emotionally. I could feel myself running from thought to thought; project to project; activity to activity. Never feeling as though I was successful that day. Never doing my best, not even at 50%. I had to do something. I had been following Lisa Sonora for awhile. I took a leap of faith and began using her methods of journaling. I started with 1 minute a morning. She gives you a prompt. I can write for one minute. Can you? Then, I added two more minutes. A couple of doodles. Then, within thirty days, I was giving myself permission to take 15 minutes each morning to respond to a prompt, draw a couple of ideas; doodle; and just stare into space. I stopped looking at my social media before getting out of bed.
Three years later, I take a half hour each morning. I write my plans for the day: gallery plans, sketches for pots, trees, waterfront; write down bills to be paid; ideas; house needs. You get it. You will find my life in this book. But, I feel better. Grounded. The two hour workshops at C2C Gallery, might get you started on a new path. Maybe not. But, at least you tried something new. Just do it!
1. You don’t need to be an artist with a capital “A”
We tend to think that only people who are very skilled at art can call themselves artists, but really, everyone is creative and can be an artist. No matter your skill level, you’ll be able to feel all the good things that come with making art.
2. Figure out your mode of creative expression
Start with what you enjoy — maybe something you’ve done before, maybe something you loved as a child. Try to keep an open mind.
“Anything that engages your creative mind — the ability to make connections between unrelated things and imagine new ways to communicate — is good for you,” says Kaimal.
You can do that this through a variety of activities: cooking, baking, collaging, oil painting, weaving, knitting, crocheting, singing, writing screenplays, scrapbooking — the sky’s the limit. And don’t feel like you have to stick to one thing, say the art therapists. Mix it up — do whatever you’re in the mood for.
3. Focus on the making, and let go of expectations
Once you have your art materials, here comes the fun part. Mess around! Just play. Because it’s the physical act of making art, says Kaimal, that induces those feelings of stress relief and positive energy.
Kaimal says you don’t even need to complete a project or like what you’re making to feel those health benefits.
4. Think about making art like any healthy habit, such as eating well or exercising
Just as you make time to work, exercise and hang out with family and friends, you should make time for your artistic endeavors, says Strang. “Creativity in and of itself is important for remaining healthy — remaining connected to yourself and remaining connected to the world,” she says.
Try to designate a special time in your week to devote to your practice, says Kaimal. Even 10 minutes. She likes to set aside time on the weekends to work on her own art projects: mixed-media pieces inspired by nature. She calls it her “TGIS.” “Thank God it’s Saturday,” she says. “It’s my few hours of time to develop something I’m working on and really take that time for myself.”
Whatever you do, don’t wait for creative inspiration to strike. “That’s a myth that you’ll create because you’re in this altered state of mind and feeling free and loose,” she says.
5. Ride those waves of emotion
The more you’re able to make art a regular habit, the more you’re likely to get this great reward: this wonderful thing that happens when you’re in the zone. Kaimal says that scientists have a word for it. It’s called “flow.”
“It’s that sense of losing yourself, losing all awareness. You’re so in the moment and fully present that you forget all sense of time and space,” she says.
6. Get yourself in the mood
Some days, you won’t feel like making art. And that’s OK, says Finck. As the author of several graphic novels, most recently Excuse Me: Cartoons, Complaints, and Notes to Self, she’s used to juggling multiple projects.
Try just doodling for 1 minute.
“If you’re too anxious to draw, address the anxiety. Go take a walk. Stand up from the couch. Visit a friend,” says Finck.
You can also try a breathing exercise, says Escobar. “Inhale for four seconds and hold for a second. Repeat that for about three minutes.”
She does this with students in her art classes to help them reset and refocus after a long day at work — and it works, she says, like a charm.
(excerpt from an NPR article.)