Art for Wellbeing
The Connection Between Creativity and Mental Health
There’s nothing quite like picking up a pencil, pen, or paintbrush, switching off from the daily hustle and bustle and digital devices, and taking your mind to a completely new place.
Here at Urban Sketch Course, we believe that art has the power to change lives, increase connection, inspire others, allow for self-expression, and is an important tool in harbouring positive mental health and well-being.
In fact, over the years, our students have told us so. During the COVID-19 pandemic, our courses helped to keep people connected, engage in a new interest, and relax amidst all of the uncertainty in the world.
In this blog post, we discover some of Ian Fennelly’s top advice and some wise words from our members exploring the fascinating connection between art and wellbeing, and how engaging in creative activities can have a positive impact on our mental, emotional, and physical health.
“Art gets you to focus on the here and now, the exact moment that you’re in. You’ve got complete control over your lines. What you’re doing is 100% totally for you and that’s why it’s so good for your wellbeing and mindfulness.”
– Ian Fennelly
Fostering Mindfulness and Presence
Urban sketching allows us to focus on the world around us, and to notice all of things that we may not notice otherwise. When you’re fully engaged in creating or appreciating art, you’re less likely to dwell on past regrets or future worries.
This mindfulness practice can improve mental clarity, reduce the symptoms of depression, and enhance overall emotional well-being.
Art and well-being are intertwined in a beautiful and harmonious relationship. Engaging in creative activities, whether as a professional artist or as a casual hobbyist, offers numerous physical, emotional, and mental health benefits. It serves as a therapeutic outlet for stress, a channel for self-expression, a confidence booster, a cognitive enhancer, and a pathway to mindfulness.
“There’s something so rewarding about working with your hands (even if it’s a digital sketch) This week I’ve had a crazy busy work week and I can feel the toll on my mental health, I feel trapped & like all the other plates I have to spin have come crashing to the ground. I know sitting down to draw will just make me far less wired and able to re-assess where I’m at with everything.”
– Urban Sketch Course Member
Art as a stress reliever
One of the most immediate benefits of engaging in art is its ability to reduce stress and anxiety. Creating art allows individuals to shift their focus away from daily worries and immerse themselves in the creative process. Whether it’s painting, drawing, sculpting, or even colouring in a colouring book, art provides a meditative experience that calms the mind and promotes relaxation.
The act of creating art also triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of pleasure and reward. These natural “feel-good” chemical helps combat stress and can improve overall mood.
“When I was working a lot or just had a really tough day, I found art took me to another world and I could get totally immersed in it and didn’t worry about things.”
– Urban Sketch Course Member
Self-Expression and Emotional Release
Art provides a safe and non-verbal channel for self-expression. For those who find it challenging to articulate their thoughts and emotions through words, art becomes a powerful tool for conveying complex feelings.
When we create art, we tap into our inner world and give form to our emotions, allowing us to better understand ourselves and communicate with others.
Creating art can also serve as a cathartic experience, helping individuals process and release pent-up emotions or trauma. Art therapy, a form of psychotherapy that utilizes creative expression, has been particularly effective in helping individuals cope with a wide range of emotional and psychological challenges.
“It’s about enjoying where you are, breathing it all in, taking all of those experiences and all those sensations in a human way. The first thing you have to do before the hand and the eye is to get the heart going. To make that connection with the place that you’re in.”
– Ian Fennelly
Connection with Nature and the Outdoors
There’s nothing like appreciating the beauty of the outdoors and being outside can be so soothing. Just noticing the small things and the details that we normally overlook can force us into another mindset.
This is why Urban Sketching can help us to connect with the outdoors in a different way. Not only does it force us to connect with a location, a time and a place. It also helps us to exercise when moving around and looking for locations. Ultimately reducing stress and elevating mood through the release of endorphins.
Being in natural landscapes, such as the countryside scenes featured in Rural Sketch Course can helps us to be exposed to fresh air and increased oxygen levels. They also offer soothing natural colours and a sense of vastness helping to create a feeling of spaciousness that helps to clear the mind.
“A crack in a cobble or a satellite dish on a wall; is something that takes time to be noticed, but when it does it feeds the soul. Put your life on hold for a minute, take in your surroundings, and discover the moment.”
– Ian Fennelly
Reach for the paintbrush!
So, if you’re feeling stressed or in need of a mental and emotional boost, consider picking up a pencil or paintbrush and creating something just for you. In doing so, you’ll not only create something beautiful but also nurture your own well-being in the process.