3 Ways That Art Benefits Mental Health
March is officially known as “Hong Kong Art Month,” (thanks to Art Central and Art Basel Hong Kong), which provides the perfect opportunity for looking at some of the many mental health benefits of art and creativity.
It is so important and emotionally beneficial to appreciate the arts and all the ways they contribute to our sense of well-being, not only in March but throughout the year, as well.
Sometimes we simply need to see things from a different perspective; to literally view the world from another’s eyes, to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. Art is one of the most accessible and easiest ways to achieve this feat.
Whether it’s checking out the latest gallery exhibitions of local artists telling stories through their chosen medium or watching documentaries of personal life journeys, art allows us to feel and understand the experience of others who may be quite foreign to us. This enhanced understanding increases our ability to empathise and connect with those around us from any walks of life.
Our brains are hardwired to learn and relearn new information throughout our lifetimes. This unique adaptation of the human species is called neuroplasticity. The more we experience confrontations with difference, otherness, and ideas/images that shake us out of our comfort zones, the more we forge new and alternative neural pathways in our brains.
In this way, experiencing and absorbing the creativity of others can actually help further develop our own creative potentials. It creates a positive feedback loop.
Providing stress relief
From time to time, we all need some relief from the constant demands of life’s obligations: family, career, relationships, etc. Art offers a beautiful distraction, a way to detach from the current stress and focus our attention on alternative sights and perspectives that can often be neglected.
These distractions serve to re-energise and help remind us that, in spite of chronic daily hassles, the world remains a beautiful and wondrous place.
So, take advantage of all the fabulous art events taking place in Hong Kong during the month of March and beyond. Your sense of well-being will appreciate the much-needed stress reduction, as your empathy and creativity may also receive beneficial boosts.
Art is all around us, beckoning that we make time to acknowledge and appreciate what it has to offer. Heed its call; your psyche will thank you.
Dr. Michael Eason is a psychologist and US licensed therapist practising at MindnLife in Central, Hong Kong.