August 19, 2023  by Linda Wattier
August 19, 2023  by Linda Wattier

Even if you’ve never considered yourself an artist, simple and enjoyable ways to incorporate the arts into your life can improve your mental and emotional wellbeing.

Many of us have grown distant from the playful activities like dancing, creative writing, sketching, and singing that brought us joy during childhood.

While grappling with anxiety and depression in my forties, I discovered that expressing my feelings through poetry helped me release the thoughts swirling in my mind.

Sometimes, all it takes is a creative outlet to unveil a new perspective on our struggles. Research shows that activities such as making music, attending cultural events, and immersing ourselves in artistic experiences significantly benefit mental health.

Here are a few simple ways I elevate my mood with the arts. I hope these ideas serve as inspiration for your own exploration.

Hand-Color Intricate Designs

It turns out you can find comfort in adult coloring books. Research suggests that coloring intricate designs, like mandalas, can soothe anxiety.

The word mandala, from Sanskrit, the ancient language of India, translates as “sacred circle.” Making a circle brings order to things. A circle suggests a center point that always attracts your eye, so you notice less what is outside the circle.

I never developed drawing skills but have always loved to color, and hand-coloring mandalas is a meditative practice that produces relaxation every time. Focusing on the interplay of colors and patterns transports me to a peaceful state of mind.

Online Source of Quality Coloring Books and Tools | Color It

Enjoy More Music

Few things stimulate the brain like music does. Research has shown that listening to music can reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and pain. It also improves sleep quality, mood, mental alertness, and memory.

About ten years ago, I taught myself to play the Native American flute because I loved that particular sound and wanted to try it. Other than a few guitar lessons as a child, I had never made music.

I did it the easy way, through finger placement diagrams, rather than learning how to read musical notes. It was pure joy, and after a long hiatus, I’m so glad I recently started playing again.

Whether you’re listening, playing, or singing, music is a powerful tool for improving mental wellness.

Keep Your Brain Young With Music | Johns Hopkins Medicine

High Spirits Native Flutes | High Spirits Online

Linda's Handcrafted Black Walnut Flute in the Key of A

Pen Your Own Poem

Poetry can make us feel better when we’re stressed, sad, or going through tough times. It uses a combination of words, metaphors, and rhythms to help us express ourselves and understand the world and where we fit in.

It can help us feel connected to others, reminding us of similar experiences or emotions and creating a sense of belonging.

Writing helps us strengthen our sense of identity and voice. Poems function as fragments of ourselves, and when writing, we can represent ourselves the way we want to be portrayed in the most honest and genuine light.

You don’t need to be an expert wordsmith to experience the therapeutic benefits of writing poetry.

Start small with a haiku—a simple three-line poem with a 5-7-5 syllable pattern that captures a moment or emotion. Or you can break the rules, as I did here in a couple of my haiku:

Four of Linda's Haiku Poems

More Than Words: Why Poetry Is Good for Our Health | International Arts & Mind Lab

How to Write a Haiku | Pro Writing Aid

Let’s Not Forget Crafting

Crafting is the activity of making decorative articles by hand. Just a few of countless activities to explore are cake decorating, ceramics, woodworking, scrapbooking, knitting, crocheting, quilting, beading, and paper crafting.

I first learned how to crochet as a teenager and have made throw blankets ever since. It’s a meditative practice with similar mental health benefits for me as coloring.

Crochet is easy to learn, and there's an abundance of tutorials and patterns online to choose from.

Lately, I enjoy making and giving star-shaped throws as gifts. This one’s for my sister-in-law’s upcoming birthday:

Angela's Afghan

Easy Crafts for Adults: 50 Great Ideas to Try | Mod Podge Rocks

How to Crochet for Beginners: A Complete Guide | Sarah Maker

Easy Star Afghan Tutorial | YouTube

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The arts can be a powerful way to bring happiness and calm into your life. So banish self-doubt, aim to have fun, and express yourself in ways that feel right to you.

Art for Mental Health | American Medical Association

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Finding IRL Community

Feeling connected to others isn’t always easy, especially in a world where screens dominate so much of our time.

Finding community, a feeling of fellowship with others through shared interests and values, is a great way to build connections and experience a sense of belonging.

99 Ways to Find IRL Community | The Good Trade

Katie's Podcast: A Certain Age

Everyone’s aging. Why not age boldly? Katie Fogarty is obsessed with women rewriting the dated story that aging makes you irrelevant.

Amp up your midlife with expert tips, tools and resources to help with the hard stuff and light you up about what’s next.

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While many factors influence brain health, a nutritious diet that includes these six nutrients can help slow the effects of time.

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Little Bits of Light

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Photos by: "ullision" at DepositPhotos (#1)  & Linda Wattier (#2)


About Linda Wattier

Founder and Bold Wellbeing Coach at How She Thrives. I help women over forty embrace wholehearted living for a more authentic, fulfilling experience of midlife and beyond.

How to Thrive in the Second Half of Life

How to Thrive in Midlife and Beyond

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