The Impact of Creativity and Art on Mental Health

The Impact of Creativity and Art on Mental Health 1920 1080 Simon O'Rourke

This week was Mental Health Awareness Week. Although the focus was ‘nature’, we’ll be highlighting the benefits art has on mental health…

Simon O'Rourke uses a chainsaw to carve a lifesize portrait of Ken Dodd

The Impact of Creativity and Art on Mental Health: The Benefits

There’s growing agreement in the world of mental health professionals about the way art can benefit people. The Mental Health Foundation website states that it can help with ageing and loneliness. Their research shows being involved with arts helps boost confidence, and leads people to be more engaged/present/mindful as well as more resilient. Creative arts can also help create community, and alleviate anxiety, depression, and stress.

sculptures based on movies: simon o'rourke creating a giant groot marionette for Wales Comic Con 2015

 

The Impact of Creativity and Art on Mental Health: Application

Obviously ‘arts and creativity’ covers a wide range of skills, hobbies, interests and possibilities. So what exactly are we talking about? Well, in terms of ‘arts’ we mean anything creative! Sketching, painting, sculpting, music, dance, baking, writing….the list goes on! Pretty much anything that involves creating!

But what does it look like? There are a few different ways we can go about using the arts to improve our mental health. These are just a few applications…

Art for Art’s Sake

Simply take time to create for the sake of creating something that brings you pleasure – whether that be the process, the product, or both. Whatever your craft, just do it and enjoy it!

Journalling

Creative journalling has grown in popularity a lot in recent years. And it’s no wonder!
Taking time to journal creatively (writing, sketching, vlogging…there’s no limit!) improves mental health in and of itself. But it also leaves us landmarks so we can see growth and progress, helps us tell our story, aids us as we process, and can help reveal patterns so we learn both our stressors and the things that bring us joy.

Therapy

Lastly, formal art therapy. This area is a growing speciality, and there is an increasing number of art therapists available. Always make sure though that you find someone who is accredited and works in association with a supervising body. The British Association of Art Therapists (BAAT) is the best place to start if you are looking to explore this form of counselling.

Chainsaw artist SImon O'Rourke works on a life size oak sculpture of a man

 

The Impact of Creativity and Art on Mental Health: Simon’s Story

The opportunity to create has helped Simon over the years. In his own words…

“I find working with wood very cathartic, although the chainsaw is such a loud and aggressive tool.
I’ve also found that returning to my roots as an illustrator and creating artwork using pen and ink is relaxing and helps me to focus. I have had times though when I’ve really struggled to be creative and it can be pressure when income depends on completing work within a certain timeframe.”

If you can relate to that and sometimes struggle to be creative (whether that’s because it feels forced or something like feeling overwhelmed by the mess or effort), Simon has learned it’s OK in those times to walk away for a little bit. Go off and do something else you love, like gardening or walking or play a computer game and then come back to it. A ‘not now’ doesn’t mean ‘not ever’!

Simon sketching the face of ayrton senna. Impact of Creativity and Art on Mental Health

Simon’s Story Continued…

“Over the last 20 years of sculpting, I’ve had numerous ups and downs and have sometimes felt like giving up entirely. It can be difficult sometimes even with a job I love to see past the need to generate income, and I think that happens for anyone. I’ve found it really important to slow down even if it means a drop in revenue for a time. It’s so important for overall health to take time to recuperate and allow yourself to breathe.
I’m not very public with my emotions and feelings and not great at being open with people, but I’ve found that taking time to create something just because I want to, not because someone is paying me to do so is one of the best things. It allows me some freedom to enjoy the creative process without time constraints.”
Impact of creativity and art on mental health - simon o'rourke pictured using a chainsaw to carve a dragon's mouth egg casket. He finds the process cathartic and beneficial for mental wellbeing.

The Impact of Creativity and Art on Mental Health: Final Thoughts

If this has piqued your interest, we definitely recommend finding out more, or just pulling out a camera, pen, pencils or even playdough and having a go! Or perhaps you have a story to share about how engaging in the arts has positively impacted your own mental health. We’d love to hear it!

And as always, to commission a sculpture, connect with Simon via the form at www.treecarving.co.uk/contact/