Sometimes when we hear someone talk about “the arts,” the images that pop to mind might include folks in formal dress gazing snootily at something highbrow. When we think about the arts in that way, they can seem really exclusive—only for the rich, the cultured, the well-connected.
But the arts are all around us all of the time. When you listen to your favorite song, when you notice a new mural on an old building, or when you watch that celebrity dance competition, you are engaging with the arts. And that’s just scratching the surface. Writers, actors, musicians, visual artists, dancers—you name it, artists of all sorts are part of our daily experience.
But sometimes—indeed, often—we just aren’t paying attention. And that’s only natural. Life makes a lot of demands on our time and attention, and so it can be easy to walk past the musician performing in the park, to miss the exhibit at the local gallery or museum, or to return the book you checked out at the library unread.
We want to encourage you to engage with the arts with more intentionality—not just because doing so can add richness to your life (though it certainly can), but because doing so can support your mental health.
Listen to—or Play—the Music
Often, we let music serve as the background for much of our daily activity. But there is plenty of value for your mental health in moving music to the foreground.
Listening (really listening rather than just letting it play while your attention is on something else) to your favorite music can offer a mood boost, as can seeing musicians you love (or are just discovering) play live. But it turns out that music can do far more, including supporting your sleep, fueling your exercise, and helping you manage pain and symptoms of depression.
But of course, you don’t have to just listen. You can participate. Take up an instrument (or dust off the one you played back in the day), find a choir to join, or find a volunteer opportunity with a local ensemble so that you can help them share their music with others.
Any and all of these things can offer support to your overall mental well-being, making your day-to-day life more harmonious.
Read—or Write—the Words
Even people who love to read can struggle to find the time to do so. And plenty of other folks think they don’t really like to read. But there is plenty of evidence to suggest that reading offers significant benefits—including reducing your stress levels by a significant amount.
The trick is finding something you enjoy reading. Maybe you love the classics. Maybe you love mysteries or thrillers or romance novels. Maybe you enjoy diving into history or love graphic novels. Maybe you would find some comfort and benefit in reading memoirs related to mental health. Perhaps audiobooks work best for you. The thing to remember is that reading should not be a chore. Read what you like and get the benefits.
You might also enjoy doing some writing yourself. Whether you keep a journal, start writing fiction or poetry, or try your hand at personal essays or researched articles, writing can be quite satisfying (even if you never show your writing to anyone else)—and can boost your mental health.
Look at—or Create—Visual Art
Earlier in this post we noted how busy all of us are and how difficult it can be to truly pay attention. Looking at visual art—whether in a museum, in a book, or even online—invites us to reclaim our ability to focus on what we are looking at so that we can notice details and more fully appreciate the artistry involved.
In a way, looking at art is similar to mindfulness practice. When you study an image intently, you bring your full attention to it rather than thinking (or worrying) about the past or the future. And like mindfulness, this practice of careful, focused looking can reduce stress and support your mental health.
And of course, just like with music or writing, there are plenty of opportunities for you to create art yourself. You could paint, draw, doodle, sculpt—whatever appeals to you. You could seek out instruction or just dabble on your own. When you find making art to be engrossing and relaxing, you are supporting your mind’s well-being.
Our Heart is in Helping You
At Peak View Behavioral Health in Colorado Springs, we are committed to helping you improve your mental health—and maintain those improvements over time. We offer a personalized approach to treatment that starts with the understanding that no two people have identical issues, and therefore no cookie-cutter approach will serve. If you are struggling with a mental health disorder, we are here to help.