For a long time when we've thought of health and healing, physical health has been the main focus. The placebo effect was largely laughed at and dismissed, but recently health professionals are becoming more aware of just how much of a part our mental health plays when it comes to our physical health and wellbeing. Stress is now known to play a huge role in many illnesses, because it reduces the effectiveness of our immune system. So it makes sense that anything which helps our mental health will also assist our physical health.
As a child I loved creating; drawing, painting, crafting, sewing, origami, you name it. Certain colours calmed me or enchanted me and depending on my mood or frame of mind, I'd work with different colour themes or different styles, blended or clean cut colours. I used to have an advertisement out of a magazine on my wall and I couldn't tell you what it was advertising for certain, a perfume maybe, but it wasn't on my wall for any other reason than the deep blues which I loved to gaze at. I looked at that picture and would almost sink into it, the colours enclosing, embracing me, my body relaxing. I'd use inspiration like that to try and capture similar feelings in my own artwork.
As I got older I stopped painting and drawing, because I was pretty much told I wasn’t going to be able to make a living from it, so it was time wasted. I got a job, instead, and became productive, but it was still the creative things that relaxed and healed me. When my husband and I bought our first house I put my creativity into decorating.
Then children came along and I only had time for practical things. By the time my eldest was 6, some of my childhood issues resurfaced and I ended up in in counselling.
Now that I look back through motherhood, I realise that the times when I was the most emotionally stable was when I had the opportunity to create. I'd be sewing or crocheting while my daughters did dance and gymnastics; making blankets and dance costumes.
As a homeschooling mum I had the excuse to join in with the crafting and art. The garden became a creative space and is almost guaranteed bring me peace when my mind's in turmoil.
All these things seemed more acceptable as being productive because I was actually making something of use, saving money or teaching our children. We had a winter blanket on each bed, ready for winter and I gifted one to my mother for her birthday made in her favourite colours from yarns she wasn't allergic to.
But my biggest step in the last couple of years has been writing for the first time since college. It started out as an invite from the editor of Grass Roots Magazine to write for them, then it's carried on with Steem.
Through writing I can take churning thoughts, write them down and start to make some sense of things. Recently, for the first time I decided to put into writing the childhood experiences that kept coming back to haunt me. It’s something that's often advised, but I only ever gave it a half hearted attempt and saw no use in it. This time, rather than just noting down the facts, I actually started to put the feelings into words as well, putting myself back into that child at the time. I started to recall things I'd buried in the recesses of my mind and finally began to make connections that I'd previously not understood.
I tore open those wounds, cried a river and slowly put myself back together again, finding forgiveness where resentment lay.
So often art is dismissed in our modern society as being unproductive. We are discouraged from it unless it can earn a living and only a small niche are able to do so. Yet more and more we are seeing how healing it can be. A quick internet search and I find organisations in Australia and the UK which help provide arts for health and healing.
Recently I saw a wonderful acknowledgement how artists have helped in Australia's time of bushfire crisis, with needle workers making pouches and nests for orphaned, rescue animals and entertainers putting on shows to raise funds for victims and artists seeing their work our taking on commissions to raise money for the same.
I'm grateful to feel I can again embrace art without guilt, for it is not only productive, after all, it's healing.
All, but one, photos courtesy of @izzydawn who is a beneficiary of this post.