Art as Therapy

You’ve probably already seen this scene in a movie, read it in a book, observed it in life. The scene of the guys at the back of the bar, alone, swallowing glass over beer and smoking cigarette over cigarette. He is heartbroken, he is desperate, and he hopes to be able to re-weld it with alcohol, but his grief is a bottomless pit. I’ve already tried it and it worked for me.

But just for the first few weeks. Then afterward I was at a point where the drink was no longer enough. So, I opened my computer and started writing something that had no name, no meaning, no purpose. Little by little, I reduced the number of bottle corpses at my feet: vodka became wine, wine became beer, and then herbal tea. In several months, word by word, hour by hour, I replaced what I thought was irreplaceable. Have you ever felt a certain fullness when you wander in the forest, in a museum, or even 15-20 years ago with your friends where imagination replaced technology? There are many reasons to love art. Art encompasses many branches, from drawing to painting, dance to writing, music to theater, and more. It sharpens our sense of pleasure and our lives. It helps to heal our hearts and keep our brains healthy.

It helps increase memory; it has been shown that the brain experiences decline less as we age in relation to this disease. Many activities with seniors revolve around art: drawing, painting, music, reading, dancing. For people with Alzheimer’s, as for others, these activities help to stimulate their memories.

Meditation, sports, yoga, can reduce the stress of daily life. The same is true when creating art, as it provides distraction and allows the brain to disconnect from usual and often recurring thoughts. If you are able to connect yourself in a creative art, you may well be able to make all those thoughts flying away. You will give your brain a break.

Art develops empathy and tolerance. A study of more than 10,000 students showed that a one-hour field trip to an art museum changed the way they thought and felt. They made more observations in their work, noticing and describing more little details in a picture. On average, a school’s visit to an art institution increased students’ tolerance by 7 percent. Art heals, physically or mentally.

People with chronic pain or illness may find it difficult to put words to thoughts, emotions, unless perhaps you are a famous writer, such as Bernard Werber. Writing has enabled him to escape, to get out of the normal world to succeed in creating imaginary worlds. The more he started writing, the more his Ankylosing Spondili Arthritis attacks became less frequent. He wrote 23 novels at the age of 56 and has no more crises at all now. It’s as if writing books, finding his mode of expression, enabled his mind to go out and create an external playground that had cured him. Art gives you a chance to express what you feel. So, sing, play, create, invent, try, fail, and try again, again and again. You may have the opportunity to discover new worlds, new people, and why not a new insight into your inner self.

Paul Janiszewski


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