Does it ever feel like working to improve your mental health is, well, work?
That is a perfectly understandable feeling. After all, almost everything worth doing requires effort—sometimes a lot of effort over a long period. Improving your mental health is certainly worth doing, but that does not mean it is always easy.
Happily, however, there are plenty of ways to work on your mental health that don’t necessarily feel like work at all.
Take, for example, participation in the arts. Now, we would never argue that serious artists are not putting in serious work on their craft. You don’t get to be Wynton Marsalis or Yo-Yo Ma or Taylor Swift without hours and hours (and hours) of effort.
But as an approach to supporting your mental health, the arts are less about work and more about creativity and enjoyment—whether you enjoy the art of others or making your own.
We explored the role of the arts in supporting mental health in a few previous entries. In this post, we will look back at some of that earlier advice to remind you that the arts are for everyone and can truly improve your quality of life.
Delight in Some Dance
Bodies in motion can be simply amazing. As we put it in a previous blog post:
[T]here are all kinds of dance to enjoy whether you find it live on stage, online, or on television. Modern, jazz, hip-hop, tap, contemporary, and ballroom—the styles of dance are many, and every one provides an opportunity to marvel at what the human body can do. Solo, small group, large ensemble—no matter the format, dance can be celebratory, thought provoking, and just plain fun.
Of course, you could also take up (or return to) dancing yourself. Odds are there are adult classes available in your community in a variety of styles. Find one you enjoy and take to the floor. It is great exercise and a great way to tap into your creativity.
A dash of dance in your daily life might be just what you need to lessen the symptoms of a mental health disorder.
Music is a Mood Booster—and More
In an earlier blog post about music, we wrote:
No matter what kind you enjoy, odds are pretty good that you find the experience of listening to that music to be pleasurable. Whether our taste runs toward the smoothest jazz or toward the hardest rock, when we listen to tunes that we enjoy, it gives our mood a boost. Arguably, that mood-boost is one of the primary reasons we listen to the radio, use our favorite streaming service, or build personal playlists and music collections, and go to concerts.
Music is good for your mental health in and of itself, but it can also serve as a kind of fuel or balm in a variety of situations, from helping you power through your workout to helping you fall asleep. Music has even been shown to lessen chronic pain. Music can also be a good accompaniment to mindfulness practice.
Also, just as we noted about dance, music does not have to be a passive experience. Making music yourself can be one of life’s true joys.
There Are Plenty of Other Arts to Explore
In addition to dance and music, there are many, many other artistic endeavors and art forms you might dive into. You could focus on reading or writing—or both. You could focus on attending plays and musicals or try your hand at acting—or both. You could spend time in museums enjoying the visual arts or you could take up painting or sculpting or what have you—or both. You could head to the comedy club for a laugh or take the stage at an open mic—or both.
You could also participate in the arts in a more behind-the-scenes way. That might mean volunteering with your community theater or other arts group. It might mean making a donation to support a project that runs on a shoestring budget. Or it might mean inviting friends and family to enjoy artistic experiences with you. All of these are wonderful ways to get involved with the arts—and to provide support for your mental health.
Our Approach to Mental Health Care is Artful and Empathetic
At Johnstown Heights Behavioral Health in Colorado, we are committed to an empathetic approach to providing treatment. We personalize our care because we know each person is unique and cookie-cutter solutions are not effective. You can count on us to help you reach your mental health goals and to help you maintain improvements over time. When you are ready to get started, we are, too.