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Wellness

Arts and crafts for your body, mind and soul

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“A simple line painted with the brush can lead to freedom and happiness.”
(Joan Miro)

Unless you’re an accomplished artist or studied art at the higher levels, you probably put away your paint brush when primary school ended. Life got busy, you devoted your energies to more “productive” activities, or simply stopped painting or drawling because you didn’t think you were any good. However, a wealth of research suggests a range of wellbeing benefits in maintaining a child-like orientation towards arts and crafts in your adult life.

You may have noticed the emergence of “mindfulness” as an interruption from our busy, technology interrupted lives. We’re so bombarded with up to the minute information, the 24-hour news cycle and social media updates, that we’ve forgotten how to stop, smell the roses and be present. Various forms of art are increasingly being used to stimulate this notion, such as doodling with coloured pencils to inspire relaxation. Furthermore, it’s been found that “slowing down” by painting or drawing, can improve emotional wellbeing for people of all ages. The British Journal of Occupational Therapy surveyed more than 3,500 knitters highlighting a strong correlation between knitting and happiness. Other research identifies a growth in self-esteem and confidence, along with reduced anxiety and depression when people engage in creativity for its own sake.

“All art should inspire and evoke emotion. Art should be something you can actually feel.” (Chris DeRubeis)

Alongside our emotional wellbeing, there’s evidence of significant improvements to our brain health and memory when we partake in arts and crafts. According to a 2015 study by the American Academy of Neurology, people who “exercised their artistic muscle were 73% less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment”, which can lead to memory problems and diseases like dementia. Different studies have looked at the benefits of art in promoting hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills and the stimulation of blood flow that can help stave off arthritis.

“Art is too important not to share.”
(Romero Britto)

Even if your physical and emotional wellbeing are not enough motivation to pick up a paint brush, the social benefits of art-based group activities are noteworthy. Getting together with friends or strangers to coalesce around learning a new artistic skill can offer real improvement in our cognitive health. An experiment: do a Google Search on the portmanteau “Crafternoon”. The myriad results for a word that you may never have come across, but whose meaning becomes immediately obvious, is evidence that our society is increasingly working with arts and crafts for social cohesion. Victoria is laden with arts and crafts based social activities for all ages. Why not give one a go this weekend!

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