Creativity and Mental Health

Recommended book:

The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: A Course in Enhancing Creativity and Artistic Confidence

This book was written by an experienced art teacher. She shares her teaching methods and understanding of the process of creation.  The basic assumption, that underlines  her method, is that learning to draw is not so much learning physical technique or coordination but it is mainly learning the ability to see. In seeing the author does not mean the passive act of gazing at the world, but a deeper sense of sight as if seeing things for the first time. As a rule we tend to look at things without noticing. We  recognize, but we don’t really see.  The exercises in the book are directed at making us look at the world  in a fresh way, to cast off the conventions that limit us. Her book is full of testimonies and pictures of people that have learned to draw for the first time in their lives.

It is intriguing to take her basic tenant in a more abstract, or metaphorical,  way. To learn to sense what is really out there, in our world, instead of being captives of our past, conventions and belief systems.  There are many approaches, or traditions, that hint at this journey under different theoretical and philosophical guises. For example, Buddhism recommends the practice of  mindfulness, living in the present and being aware of both thing internal and external to us.

How can studying to draw contribute to our mental well being? It is my belief, that the more we learn diverse skills, particularly those that are new to us,  we learn to utilize unused areas of our brain. This in turn enhances our brain functioning, and ultimately our  well being.

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journal as a self help tool

Many people use a  journal to enhance their well being and cope with variety of mental health challenges.  A journal can have a wide variety of uses. The Journal can enhance a persons creativity. The Journal may also be helpful in managing the writer’s emotions. The Journal may be a useful tool in delving into, and coming to terms with one’s past.

One technique is recommended in  The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity [10th Anniversary Edition].

The instruction provided in the “Artists Way”   is  to write what ever comes to mind. You should let the written words pour out in a stream of consciousness with no regard or concern for literary value. The method is based on the assumption that no one will ever see your journal so you are free to write whatever comes to mind. In fact you are advised not to look back and reread what you wrote. It is the act of uninhibited writing that is therapeutic. This technique was initially developed to enhance creativity. Clinical experience shows that it support mental health as well.

People that are depressed should be cautious using this method. For some, it can be beneficial. Others may find that this method exacerbates their depression . They may use the free flowing journal to dwell on minor faults  and sorrows. These people may benefit more from a more structured way of journaling.

One of the simplest structured forms of writing a journal to help alleviate depression is, at the end of the day, to write down three things that you are grateful for.  It is important to persevere and to write down three real things that are unique; not to repeat oneself day after day. As simple as this may sound, studies have shown a beneficial effect of this method. It gradually alters the way we perceive our world.

journal as self help tool for mental health

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