Many of us have heard of Blue Monday as what is deemed to be the most depressing day of the year (typically this falls on the third Monday in January). The concept was actually only introduced as part of a 2005 press release from the holiday company, Sky Travel. Sky Travel have claimed to calculate the date using an equation which takes into account weather conditions, debt level, time since Christmas amongst other factors. Scienitists have deemed this formula as nonsensical.
Despite the ropey origins of the day, it does make us think about the importance of mental health, and how to take care of ourselves emotionally. Although primarily focused on experience, here at Popup Painting we acknowledge and celebrate the link between creativity and mental wellbeing. This is seen anecdotally, with guests expressing how relaxing they find the experience, but also is increasingly documented in health news stories around the world (BBC, 2018)
Gareth Lewis Shelton, CoFounder of PopUp Painting said: “A lot of people who we meet at our events have high pressured jobs and lives. What we hear time after time is that painting gives people a chance to switch off and unwind. It’s been really amazing to see how after a couple of hours of painting, people leave feeling completely de-stressed and proud of themselves”
These common encounters with guests, has spurred us on to look into the health benefits of painting and being creative.
Here are some of the positive things that happens to your brain and wellbeing when you paint.
1. Creativity generally increases happiness.
This is the idea of flow (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, 1996) this is when you are completely absorbed in something and you lose all track of time. Flow reduces anxiety and stress and can even slow your heart rate, which will have a calming effect.
2. When a person completes a creative task (no matter the outcome) the brain is flooded with dopamine (Hikaru Takeuchi, 2010).
Dopamine is the feel good chemical that gives a person motivation. It has been found that creavity helps the mind focus even more than mediation and thus makes the mind relax and redirects is away from anxiety, stress and depression.
3. Creativity can gives people a platform to express themselves (Heather L. Stuckey and Jeremy Nobel, 2010)
This has brought on the rise in art therapy, dance therapy and others. It is often hard to express oneself through words so another creative platform can allow oneself to voice their feelings which is beneficial if they normally struggle with this.
4. Gifted People use both sides of their brain.
Most people know that the left side of the brain helps with more logical activities, whereas the right side is for artistic endeavours. People normally state whether they are left or right brained. However, no matter your natural skill set, you will benefit from using most sides of your brain. Think about it, you wouldn’t go to the gym and just exercise one side of your body.
Studies have shown that people that have been labelled as ‘Gifted’ tend to practice activities that use both sides of their brain. If you feel you excel more in left-brained activities, this is even more reason to whip out the paint brush and start painting. (American Psychology Society, 2004)
5. Painting strengthens memory.
Studies have found that people that frequently practice painting and other creative activities experience less memory loss illnesses as they age. In a study, people that described themselves as artists have fewer cognitive problems as they grew older. (Mayo Clinic)
6. Painting builds problem solving skills.
The problem solving someone undertakes whilst creating a painting develops critical thinking. The fact that a painting never has a straightforward plan, and a person has to change and react to the way things are going practices these skills.
7. Painting relieves stress.
There’s no denying that getting involved in painting almost puts the mind into a mediative state, naturally calming you. But research has actually shown through MRI scans increased connectivity which demonstrates ‘psychological resilience’. This indicates a person can handle difficult situations better and maintain a more positive state. (PLOS One, 2014)
8. Painting helps you grow Emotionally.
There is a reason that there’s been a huge increase in art therapy, as visual art helps a person channel their emotions. Painting helps you increase your emotional intelligence thus understanding their feelings more.
A study in Romania asked 150 students to partake in drawing in their extra-curricular activities. They were then asked to paint portraits and were asked to express emotions. The portrait visually explained every emotion very obviously. The children who participated in the study became more cooperative and more active, any negative reactions were noticeably more controlled (David Publisher, 2018)
So there you have it, 8 brilliant reasons to paint! If you are feeling low this Blue Monday, take some time out of your schedule and get creative. Don’t worry about the outcome and just enjoy the process.
If you are worried about own mental wellbeing, please consult a doctor.
Find out more about what creavity can do for our health in our blog here.