The more I share and learn and experiment with art for wellbeing, the more different impacts I see and experience. Art can be therapy for all different issues, some long-running or severe, others more everyday.
Many of us struggle with the long hours of darkness in early and mid winter, the days when it barely seems to come light at all only to fade to dusk again so soon. Cloudy and overcast weather, rain and storms make this even worse. If snow falls and settles, what always strikes me is the monochrome of a snowy scene, all white and somehow oppressive. When snow finally clears and retreats, it’s great to see once again the different shades of grass, trees, roads. But even with no snow, winter views can look so lifeless and colourless.
Art and craft are all the more beneficial at this time, in different ways. They shine light and colour into our lives when we most need them. Painting or drawing using bright colours is so welcome on a dark day. Crafting using varied, colourful fabrics or other materials is another mental stimulus. Some people make and decorate colourful candles or lanterns in winter, lighting the darkness. Moreover, most of us have to spend more time inside in winter, when it is too dark or cold to linger outdoors. If people find time drags, then creative “pastimes” like art and craft could help give purpose and focus. The more we surround ourselves with light and colour, the more we find a refuge from the shadows of winter.
Colour theory explores how and why we respond to and use colours in particular ways, and highlights the importance of colour to lift mood or to express ourselves. I hope to look at this specifically in a future blog post. Winter may be the time when colour has the most impact on us.
Christmas itself is traditionally a time when many people enjoy creativity. Making cards, decorating trees, making a Nativity scene or an Advent calendar…Even gift wrapping presents can become an artform as people use their imagination to wrap with different papers, maybe printing their own patterned papers or using tissue paper, ribbons and tags. All these can be mindful activities, absorbing people’s thoughts to focus on creativity. Gathering found material outside, maybe holly or ivy, then crafting them into a wreath and decorating it with ribbons or other embellishments can be a way to connect with nature, further helping wellbeing. It’s also a way that people have traditionally brought nature indoors in winter, with fir trees and arrangements of foliage or cones or poinsettia plants linking us to the outdoors.
Some people feel that boosting wellbeing through art or other activities is only a distraction, doing little to work through the causes of mental health issues or low mood. This may depend on those causes, but even in that way it can help as a haven and refuge, an opportunity to recharge by focusing on something positive. In the long run, it can address the root causes as well, and used as a form of therapy, it can allow self-expression. Art’s impact is as diverse as the needs and issues we all have.