In with the Art, Out with the Anxiety

When you pick up a brush to paint something, or when you turn on the radio to dance, or when you place your fingers on a piano keyboard to make music, you’re creating art. And doing so is wonderful for you in ways you may not even think about.

“The arts can access parts of the brain that aren’t reachable by other means,” says Kathryn MacDonell, the Geriatric Program Manager and NICHE Coordinator — Dementia Support at Texas Health Dallas. “They help express emotion and can heal the spirit. Making art has been proven to reduce cortisol levels, boost self-worth and promote problem-solving.”

In good times as well as the uncertain ones we’re experiencing now, art can be our rock, our raft; it can keep us afloat and raise our spirits and boost our outlook.

“Creativity is wildly important in staying positive and remaining connected to self and the community,” MacDonell says. And these days, when social interaction is kept to an absolute minimum, remaining connected is imperative. 

So fire up your Facebook Messenger video or your Facebook Portal and play the piano for someone — or several people — you love. Or put on music you both enjoy, and savor the shared experience. Or maybe give everyone a topic — sunrise, birds, laughter, for example — and see what you can all create about it using materials you have on hand.

Here are some more artsy ideas from MacDonnell, who firmly believes everyone is an artist.

Think outside the paint — and paintbrush — box

“Dip a fork, scrunched cloth, anything in paint and take it for a walk on a page,” she says. No paint? Use coffee, tea, wine … maybe even ketchup. 

Make a vision board

Cut words from magazines or a newspaper that reflect your hopes and dreams for the future. Illustrate them with images — stick figures are perfectly fine — or personal photographs, or pictures from the pages of those periodicals.

Go on a nature scavenger hunt

Being outdoors does wonders for your mindset and your well-being. Add to that the fun of collecting rocks, flowers, twigs and then glue them onto a board or cardboard.

Make your own museum creation

Find a museum online, then pick a piece of artwork you particularly like and try your hand at drawing it.

Channel your sidewalk-chalk child

Write a message of gratitude to neighbors, or draw a giant hopscotch grid.

Wing it

Cut out paper bird forms, or try your hand at origami birds. “Write a caption of wishes on their wings for yourself, your family, your community,” MacDonell says. “Hang them from the ceiling, or mail some away” to a loved one or even someone who least expects it.

If you or someone you know is feeling overwhelmed with emotions of sadness, depression, loneliness or anxiety, Texas Health Behavioral Health is there with you to provide personalized health and wellbeing services. You can connect with an experienced professional at 682-236-6023.

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