I’m about as talented as my six year old cousin when it comes to the ways of the paintbrush. But art has been incredibly therapeutic for me these last few weeks and it’s certainly healthier than burning holes in my eyeballs watching re-runs of How I Met Your Mother on my laptop.
You don’t need to be a contender for the next Turner Prize to benefit from the relaxing effects of creating art, in fact it probably helps if you’re not. All I’ve been doing is doodling with coloured pencils in a sketchbook while listening to music. I call my latest masterpiece ‘Triangle With Dot In The Middle’.
Aside from the obvious relaxation and enjoyment elements of getting in touch with your inner Michelangelo, there’s hard factual research as well. Here comes the science bit…
The best thing about something like drawing is that it’s transportative. Utterly in the moment. Being creative and using the right side of your brain means stepping away from the frazzled, thinking side of your brain and giving your body a hit of those ‘feel good’ endorphins we hear so much about from health gurus, celebrities and Steve from Coronation Street.
A recent study at Anglia Ruskin University found that drawing and painting can have a positive effect on people’s mental well-being – so if you don’t want to take the ramblings of a 27-year-old, who occasionally listens to Celine Dion, as gospel, pay attention to the academics. The results of the study showed that 88% of participants with mental health needs reported improvement in their levels of motivation and 81% reported gaining confidence after a 12 week art course.
So if you’re struggling with feeling shitty, I would thoroughly endorse switching off the TV and buying yourself some paintbrushes or pencils. And if, unlike me, you unearth some kind of hidden talent….well, don’t beat me over the head with it, OK?