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For thousands of years, people have immersed themselves in artistic pursuits. From ancient cave paintings to modern digital art, creative expressions have transcended time and culture, serving as powerful tools for self-expression, communication and forging social connections.

More recently, the mental wellbeing benefits of engaging in artistic and cultural activities have been recognised. In fact, doing any form of art that you enjoy, whether actively or simply as an observer can increase relaxation and improve your mental wellbeing.

Art activities come in many shapes, from drawing or painting, hobbies, to creative writing, painting, photography, quilt-making, singing in a choir, listening to music, or enjoying an art exhibition or cultural experience. All have been found to be beneficial to mental wellbeing.

Act Belong Commit and our arts Partners would like to share four ways that engaging in arts benefits mental wellbeing.

1. Arts creates a sense of belonging

The arts have a unique ability to bring people together. Whether attending cultural events or joining an arts group, there is an opportunity for people to connect with others who share their passion, often bridging gaps across diverse backgrounds and ages.

Space 2 Sing member Michele shares how singing allows her to meet new people:

“Singing has helped me make new friends that I didn’t think I’d be able to make now that I’m retired.”

Being part of an arts group not only expands social circles but also provides a sense of belonging. Belonging is important as it helps people to feel comfortable being themselves by spending time with like-minded people who share their interests. When we feel we belong, our mental wellbeing thrives.

2. Arts unlocks the ‘flow state’

Participating in the arts can lead to a unique cognitive state known as ‘flow’. This mental state, first identified in artists, has been described as total engagement, intense focus, and a sense of timelessness. When we immerse ourselves in creative activities, our brains shift away from stress and anxiety, allowing us to experience a state of mental pleasure and neurochemical reward.

Laura from Aqua Kre-Artz describes her state of flow through her involvement in creating art:

“I love that [art] brings such a joy and positive focus into my day. It’s also a place to find my flow where I can be quite present in the moment and it gives my brain just a bit of peace and a bit of space.”

Ann from the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra describes her state of flow through her involvement in music:

“I love playing. I love being with other people. I love working in teams. It gets me into a state of flow. I really, really enjoy music [and] creative processes.”

3. Arts provides a platform for self-expression and social justice

Art provides a platform for self-expression. For many, creating art is a way to convey emotions, thoughts, and experiences.

Jane King, Gallery Manager at the John Curtin Gallery, explains:

“Many artists are really engaged with some issue or their personal beliefs or something that they can then infuse in the work they produce.”

The canvas becomes a place where people can freely explore and communicate their innermost feelings, shedding light on important societal issues. This profound connection between artist and art allows for the creation of meaningful and impactful pieces that resonate with audiences on a deeper level, provoking thought and inspiring change.

4. Mastering a skill and learning something new

Learning a new artistic skill or mastering a creative technique can be a deeply rewarding experience that boosts confidence and self-esteem. Whether it is learning to paint, dance or play a musical instrument, the process of acquiring new skills fosters a sense of accomplishment and personal growth. Being part of an arts group is a great opportunity to not only meet new people but to also learn from each other too.

Friends of Rockingham Arts Community Inc. member Kelly, explains:

“I am a part of a social group… and it’s a great group of ladies here. We chat and make different things, and it’s great learning from others as well.”

Members from Challenge Brass Band expressed finding joy in their group and learning new music, with Alice describing:

“I like being a part of the band because I get to play with my family and I get to see new music.”

Get involved in the arts!

The mental wellbeing benefits of arts engagement are clear. Particularly if you Act Belong Commit. Want to get involved in the arts?

  • Act: Do some art. Participate in arts and cultural activities. Attend a local play, join a choir, paint, craft, or explore a museum.
  • Belong: Do art with someone. Strengthen your sense of belonging by connecting with others who share your interests. Explore local events, join an arts group, or maybe even start your own book club!
  • Commit: Do something meaningful. Make a statement through your art, commit to learning a new artistic skill or trying something new like pottery, photography or an instrument! Volunteer at an arts event.

Search the Act Belong Commit Activity Finder today to see what is available in your area.