The Zone - Volume 79
Continuing our discussion of the influence of the arts on the resilience of individuals though the ages, this week we look at how painting and drawing have had impact.
According to Dr. Cathy Malchiodi, “humankind has continually returned to art making as one way to reparation and recovery from the inescapable physical, emotional, interpersonal and spiritual challenges of life.”
The art of painting has depicted man’s courageous struggles and battles with nature and his survival beginning with the stories that are told on cave walls, some of them dating back over 35,000 years. In 2014, a geochemist and archaeologist, Maxime Aubert, found what may be the world’s first picture. It is estimated to be at least 35,400 years old. Aubert commented that the detail of the picture was so superb that he was able to identify the specific animal, Babirusas, also called deer-pigs.
From cave drawings to today’s paintings, a connection between the life of our ancestors and today’s realities is demonstrated. The stories tell of survival, creativity and strengths that are common within humankind, regardless of when they occurred. In 2020 The Spirit of Resilience Exhibition was held with over 80 artists from around the world showing their art of inspirational and thought-provoking art.
These forms of art have always been therapeutic in that they offer insights and inspiration to the human experience. Art Therapy, as we know it today, uses art materials and directives to activate sensory responses and generate imagery that is directly connected to emotions.
Remembering that resilience is the ability to bounce back from challenging times, art can show us the journey that we all have been on. In addition to telling the stories, art can provide the mechanism to grow stronger and heal.
A valuable resource that we have found beneficial is the rtor.org website for mental health services. In their July 10, 2018 issue they listed the following.
Mental Health Benefits of Art Therapy Activities
Art therapy can be used as a complement to traditional mental health treatment. The aim is to manage behaviors, process feelings, reduce stress and anxiety, and increase self-esteem.
Self-discovery: Creating art can help you acknowledge and recognize feelings that have been lurking in your subconscious.
Self-esteem: The process will give you a feeling of self-accomplishment which can be very valuable to improve your self-appreciation and confidence.
Emotional release: The greatest benefit of art therapy is giving you a healthy outlet for expressing and letting go all your feelings and fears. Complex emotions such as sadness or anger sometimes cannot be expressed with words. When you are unable to express yourself, but you desire emotional release, making art may help you to do it.
Stress relief: Fighting anxiety, depression or emotional trauma can be very stressful for you both mentally and physically. Creating art can be used to relieve stress and relax your mind and body.
It is very important to know that you don’t have to be a talented artist to try art therapy. Human beings are innately creative and all you need to do to complete an art therapy activity successfully is to be honest with yourself and your emotions.
Studies also show that art stimulates the release of dopamine. This chemical is released when we do something pleasurable, and it basically makes us feel happier. Increased levels of this feel-good neurotransmitter can be very helpful if you are battling anxiety or depression.
Mental health professionals and experts agree that art therapy has many benefits, from boosting your self-esteem and providing you a safe outlet to relieve your emotions, to giving you a sense of control over your life and helping you to get to know and understand yourself better. During the process of art creation, you will be taking yourself on a journey of self-discovery that will help you eliminate emotional roadblocks and learn how to communicate with yourself and others.
Painting and drawing have a rich history of being therapeutic.
Paintings and drawings have demonstrated the resilience of people throughout history.
The therapeutic value of these art forms continues today.
Allow yourself time to doodle.
Consider taking a creative arts workshop.
Visit a local art museum.
Things to Limit
Thinking that you must draw within the lines.
Believing that art is dead.
Thinking that the only paint color is off-white.
Quote of the Week
“Art is the queen of all sciences, communicating knowledge to all the generations of the world.”
~ Leonardo da Vinci
Appreciating art is such a beautiful resource for all of us to develop and refine. As we continue to strengthen our resilience, art offers us a tool to unlock our potential.
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The paraDocs are Dr. Francis L. Battisti, PhD, Psychotherapist, Distinguished Psychology Professor and former Executive V.P and Chief Academic Officer and Dr. Helen E. Battisti PhD, RDN, CDN, Chief Nutrition Officer, at SpNOD, Health Promotion Specialist, Research and Clinical Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and former Assistant Professor.
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