Mental Health and Creative Expression

Hi everyone,

I wanted to emphasize today the benefit of expression, in whichever form of expression you favor. Everyone has heard the phrase “actions speak louder than words.” There is another piece of this to note: there can be a lot of power behind ways we communicate or present ourselves simply through our creative outlets.

Another way I think to describe this is abstract art. One can go to an art gallery and be staring at a piece without a title. There is no concept to ponder when staring at the art piece to find out what it means, what it stands for. There are no words to assist the viewer in telling what the artist was thinking when they created the piece. This situation leaves room for creative expression, and things in life that are abstract can be a real gift in the sense that they challenge a person to go deeper. Additionally, that artist wanted to tell a story or share a visual without the addition of words; they wanted to express themselves completely without words.

What is your creative outlet? When you’re finishing a pile of paperwork or cramming for an exam, what would you rather be doing? If you had that free time to clear your mind, how would you accomplish this?

Here are some ways people often experience creative expression:

  • Photography
  • Graphic arts (drawing, painting, sculpture)
  • Music
  • Movement/Dance
  • Writing (novels, poetry, short stories, blog posts)
  • Sports
  • Theatre

Everyone has their favorites; the mode that takes them into a zone that narrows their vision of focus to optimal levels of expression. This is a beautiful thing.

The actual benefits of creative expression?

  1. Happiness. I put this first because we all strive to be happy, however, the task is often much easier to daydream about rather than act on. Expressing ourselves makes us more genuinely happy with ourselves and with our lives. Expression can also increase our personality and behavioral development.
  2. A form of release. Expression allows us to release stress and anxiety, and even take us out of reality and into a more positive mindset and vision. In other words, we take our foot off the gas pedal. Even a couple minutes will slow us down and bring us a sense of calm.
  3. Your chosen forms of expression can be contagious. Those around you may find themselves inspired or heavily influenced by your expression. Whether it is your artwork that is being viewed in the gallery or your photo that pops up on the explore feed, you can make another person want to discover their own creativity.
  4. Connecting with others. Through your creativity you can connect with others on a more personal level, beyond common dialogue. People that share interests in creative expression can learn from one another or even enjoy doing it together.

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A study done in New Zealand revealed that expressive writing has ways of healing. Another prestigious journal, Advances of Psychiatric Treatment, stated that this form of writing can improve one’s mood, reduce depression, and lower blood pressure.

Literature is a language that authors have expressed themselves through their personal biographies, short stories, poetry, or even novels on topics of love and loss. Tragedy combined with literature can give the mind that sense of release, by channeling the events into ways to learn and reflect on them, and maybe even turn them into something beautiful.

The American Journal of Public Health presented a review in 2010 that targeted the association between art and health. More than 100 studies were done to explore this association; many patients studied included those with cancer or other chronic illnesses. The engagement with music was found to decrease anxiety in these patients, and improve a more positive emotional balance.

I love classical music in certain settings. I had much more anxiety in high school as opposed to college before exams, and I would actually play Frank Sinatra in the background to calm my nerves and get me to focus. The softness of the tune became a routine for me.

Cancer patients have been benefitted by visual arts, such as pottery and painting. These practices help them to focus on positive experiences and maintain their sense of social identity. Various studies have also shown that visual arts tend to lead to shorter stays in hospitals and less reliance on pain medication.

If you are surprised with the above content, do not feel at fault. Our society does not often advertise the benefits of art and expression for our mental health. I just urge you to experiment and see if anything (if not all) interests you, because it could mean long-term health and less emphasis on things like pills. In no way am I disregarding modern medicine, just don’t forget the natural medicine that is all around you.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
Reading in the park is one of my favorites (all photography on the blog is my own)

Creative expression I practice:

Poetry 

Photography

Drawing & Ceramics

Blogging

Yes, I do enjoy all four of those categories. I don’t limit myself to one, and they all bring me happiness. Blogging is the newest addition, one that I am so happy I started.

Poetry: 

Poetry is a condensed way of writing and can be so incredibly raw. You can be abstract or specific, playful or serious. Poetry is known as the language of love, but not always between people. You can write about the love you have for a place, a concept, or a feeling you have yet to feel but think about it in your most idealistic dreams.

I’ve written poetry about the hardest experiences in my life where I felt most betrayed and vulnerable, and I read these poems still to reflect. Sometimes I smile that I’ve grown so much since then, and sometimes they make me cry. And that’s okay. This is a healthy release.

Photography:

This is a somewhat new hobby and expression for me. I’m so excited to join millions of people that love to adjust the lenses of cameras and find the perfect (or imperfect) shot. It’s a whole new perspective, seeing things behind an object like that. I recently invested into a legitimate DSLR camera for myself; a very much desired graduation present.

I love looking at pictures of landscapes and art, and the little things.

Drawing and Ceramics:

Both visual arts, I love both of these forms of expression. Sketching can be done everywhere, you just need the notepad and pencil. Sketching takes a while to do, so it forces you to stay put and enjoy the present moment of your desired image. Ceramics is working with your hands; a very therapeutic activity. I’ve taken three years of it now and I would highly recommend it as a course. You can also do this type of work in studios if you are no longer in school. Starting from scratch up until the final product is an amazing process.

Blogging:

Blogging is the newest expression for me. I’ve always wanted to start a blog, however, in college I didn’t believe I could dedicate the time and energy in my schedule to plan thoughtful posts. The words are flowing out of me now, and I hope you enjoy them and find them insightful!

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Remember that those around you don’t necessarily need to see your forms of expression. The main point is that you are internally satisfied. It’s not about followers or likes in a world of increasing social media, it’s much more organic than that when examined at the source. You don’t need validation for your expression. Do it because you love it, and if others love it too, that’s just an added bonus.

Some of the most talented and original people I have met are so engrossed in their forms of expression. They have made them their everyday, their professions, their passions. Some have chosen to forgo college education all together because they trusted their expression to lead them a different route. Everyone is different, and all forms of expression should be valued.

I just got lost in this blog post and my coffee got cold. I hope you find your own way to get lost. Thanks for reading. xx

-Kelly ❤

 

 

 

 

Published by

K State of Mind

Hi beautiful people! I’m Kelly, a public health graduate hoping to inspire others about health and wellness. To be frank, health is long-term. It shouldn't go in and out of fashion. You cannot buy health in a package delivered to your doorstep- you have to work for it! Join me as I post about health research, skincare, the benefits of a quality diet, and exercise. Animal posts as well as my love for coffee will most likely also be featured. xx

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