For many people, it can seem like participation in the arts is all in the past. Maybe they remember taking dance classes as a child. Maybe they were in the school band or choir. Maybe they loved writing poetry or painting or working with clay. Maybe they have fond memories of being in a play or working backstage. Or maybe they remember a field trip to a concert or a museum that really stuck with them.
Many times, these sorts of artistic endeavors—and others like them—are central to a person’s experience as they are growing up. But often, participation in the arts falls off when folks reach adulthood.
There are, of course, plenty of reasons that might happen. Very few of us are going to become professional artists—and sticking with our youthful arts activities can be difficult as an adult. We get busy with our job, with our families, and with all the little (and not so little) activities that seem to fill our days to bursting.
Maybe you have direct experience with what we are talking about. The saxophone you played in high school band gets tucked into the back of a closet. You can’t bear to read the poetry you took so seriously as a young person because it might be embarrassing (or just plain bad). You might sing in the shower or with the radio in your car, but almost absentmindedly rather than with any sort of intention. You outgrew your tap shoes and never got around to buying a new pair. And most nights, you want to stay in rather than heading out to a show or an exhibition or what have you.
All of that is understandable. But it is also a shame because the arts can add joy and creativity to your life—and can support your mental health as well. That’s true whether you become an avid audience member or an eager participant.
Dance Can Deliver Delight
It is possible that when you think of dance, you picture ballet dancers performing a story ballet like Swan Lake or The Nutcracker. And maybe that really appeals to you—but maybe it doesn’t.
And that’s okay because there are all kinds of dance to enjoy whether you find it live on stage, online, or on television. Modern, jazz, hip-hop, tap, contemporary, ballroom—the styles of dance are many, and each 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.
Music Is Manifestly Meaningful
Sometimes we don’t realize just how much music we are surrounded by. It plays in the background of nearly every store or restaurant. It underpins the action in our favorite movies and television shows. It blasts out of radios when we drive and out of our earbuds when we work out.
It is easy to take all of that for granted. But deeper engagement with music in a live setting or even recorded music that we give our full attention can provide an emotional boost while letting us slip out of our day-to-day lives and into the slipstream of sound. From classical music to rock-n-roll, listening to music can add joy and relaxation to our day.
Of course, you could also take up (or return to) making music yourself. Odds are there are lessons available in your community (as well as online) that could get you started. Whether you sing, play an instrument, or both, your music-making can become an important part of your day.
Books Can Buoy Brains
So many people get the idea that reading is a chore because they did not enjoy the books assigned to them in high school or college. But reading can be—and should be—a joy whether your taste runs toward literary fiction, history, memoir, mysteries, science-fiction, romance, comic books, or whatever. Reading gives us the chance to enter another world and experience places we have never been and consider perspectives we have never encountered.
Of course, you could also take up (or return to) writing yourself. Odds are there are writing groups in your community that would provide encouragement and friendly suggestions. The act of writing—whether you pen fiction or nonfiction—can help you process your emotions, puzzle things out, and share your creativity with others.
Mastery Is Not Required
We want to note that participating in the arts as an adult is not a competition nor do you have to hold yourself to the standards of professional artists. The key is to have fun exploring your own creative side as well as enjoying the artistry of others.
Our Approach to Helping You is Artful
At Johnstown Heights Behavioral Health in Colorado, we offer compassionate, personalized treatment that can help you improve your mental health—and maintain those improvements over time. It’s a science and an art—and our honor to help others.