When I was 28, I went to one of those pottery painting stores with a group of friends. Though my friends wanted to go, having decided that I was not a creative person, I was dreading the outing. After some early life experiences with the arts, I decided that I didn’t have a creative bone in my body. With a pit in my stomach, I went to that pottery store and I confirmed my belief about my lack of talent. This continued belief led me to stay away from creative ventures for years.
Creating is good for health
Fast forward another ten years, as I was studying for my Integrative Medicine boards, I saw a trend in the material I was studying. First, I found a journal article which identified the benefits of a variety of art forms which improve the stress response. Later, I discovered the book, Opening Up By Writing It Down by Pennybaker and Smyth, which discussed the benefits of expressive writing. It seemed that creative work was another real gateway to health.
Letting old ideas go
So after years of putting off creative outlets as something I might pursue, I began to give myself permission to explore this arena. I realized that I could be creative without being a great artist and still reap the health benefits. Additionally, after years of personal growth, I no longer immediately dismissed my work as “not good enough.” I let go of some old notions of myself, shifting into a new domain of healthy coping.
I could be creative without being a great artist
Since that shift I have found a real love for mindful photography, which I learned about at Seton Cove here in Austin. This medium combines a mix of meditation and the photographic art form. This field of photography is less focused on technique, and is more about being present in a given moment with an image. Spending a weekend day doing a contemplative art form is something my twenty-eight year old self would never have imagined, and my stress hormones are better for it.
The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health: A Review of the Current Literature
Opening Up By Writing It Down: How expressive writing improves health and eases emotional pain. https://www.amazon.com/Opening-Writing-Down-Third-Expressive/dp/1462524923