Kick Up Your Heels!

Kick Up Your Heels! 

November is Arts and Health Month. This month our blog will focus on the relationship between art and health.  For more information you may visit the Society for the Arts in Healthcare, the international non-profit organization that founded Arts and Health Month.

The pursuit of art on a regular basis may be the key to healing our minds and bodies. Kim Blair

When I think about the relationship between art and health I typically think about the connection between creativity and the brain, mental health or stress reduction.

I tend to not think about the connection between art and physical activity.  However, there is a relationship between art and physical activity and, as we all know, physical activity is important to good health.

You see, art is such a fundamental element in our life that we can easily overlook the presence of art.  We may not recognize how often art is a part of our activities or how often art influences or enhances our health and well-being.

 Dance – an art form. The body – an instrument. Learn to play the instrument and master the art form. Debbie Dee

Dance is an art form.  Maybe calling what I’m doing on Saturday night art is a stretch but listening to music (art) and dancing (art) is a perfect example of how art can be a part of our physical activity and help to keep us health.

Dance is a great exercise. Dancing can raise your heart rate, burn calories, and tone muscles. Dance also helps with:

  • better coordination
  • increased flexibility
  • improved balance
  • physical confidence

One of the best things about dance is that for many people dancing doesn’t feel like exercise. Instead, it is a fun and social activity.  Art, in this case dance and music, enhances our experience making our activity more joyful.

Whether you study ballet, practice tap-dancer, do hip-hop moves, belly-dance with friends or take weekend ballroom lessons you are getting a great work-out all while practicing a long standing art form.

And that is one of the most beautiful things about art, it connects us to traditions.  With dance, you are repeating rhythms and movements that have been part of human behavior for centuries.  You become part of something greater and continue to keep art alive.

Next time you turn up the music and dance take a moment to appreciate the art you are practicing.

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10 Ways Art Helps to Create Good Health

10 Ways Art Helps to Create Good Health

When you have your health, you have everything

The World Health Organization has defined good health as the complete state of physical, mental and social wellbeing, not just the absence of disease or illness.  This definition of health acknowledges that good health and wellbeing require not just physical health, but also psychological and social wellbeing, it is a definition that recognizes that body, mind and community are all essential to good health.

It stands to reason, then, that if we wish to have good health we must care for not only our bodies, but also our minds and our communities. Our wellbeing depends on our connections with others and our emotional state, along with our physical fitness.

Art positively impacts both individual and community wellbeing. Incorporating art into own daily life, into our community and into our health care systems will help us all create good health.

10 Ways Art Helps to Create Good Health

(1) Creating and viewing art increases relaxation, enjoyment and inner calm and reduces stress

(2) Art provides individuals a way to express thoughts, feeling and emotions that may be difficult or impossible to communicate

(3) Including art in healthcare settings improves the environment for patients and healthcare staff

(4) Arts improves the quality of life for those with chronic health conditions

(5) Public art creates gathering places in the community, encouraging social connections, reducing isolation and makes community spaces more live-able

(6) Incorporating art in healthcare provides opportunities for artists to develop their practice, grow professionally and contribute to the community

(7) Art is used to educate medical professionals; Analyzing art provides a new way of “seeing” and helps medical students become more skillful at diagnosing patients

(8) Creating and viewing art offers individuals opportunities for social interaction and community involvement, and connections with others is important in good health

(9) Including art in healthcare allows healthcare professionals new tools for diagnosis and improve communication with the patient

(10) Art is used to promote positive health messages and address public health issues

 

 

 

More Information on Art and Health

Society for the Arts in Health Care

Art For health’s Sake: Art Can Provide Healing for the Total Being

The Arts, Health and Well Being – The Arts Council of England

Art and Wellbeing in Rural OZ blog

Art and Public Health

November is Arts and Health Month, a great time to highlight the various ways the arts are used in health care and community settings.  Today I want to share how the arts are used in public health

Public Health

Public health works to promote healthy behavior and respond to health concerns for populations.  Public health addresses health issues at a community level, rather than at the individual level, and focuses on prevention, rather than treatment. For example, public health programs might include developing vaccines, distributing condoms or health education campaigns.

We often think about the science involved in public health, but I believe art is equally important in this field.  We must remember that art is present in all cultures, all communities, art is not something this is an “extra”, instead art is a universal trait of human culture.  In providing public health programs to communities it only makes sense to incorporate art into services.

Piano Stairs

This video of a subway stairway designed to look like piano keys shows of how art shapes how we interact with our environment.  This is also an excellent example of how art can be part of a public health program designed to promote healthy behavior (this was not a public health program).

New Ideas

There is limited research on the role of art in public health.  A few graduate programs are incorporating this topic into curriculums.  The University of Toronto Public health graduate program hosts an annual Art of Public Health conference.

Public health programs have a great opportunity to improve services by incorporating the arts into their work.

What other ways can art be used in public health?  Share your ideas!

More Information

The Use of Art in Medical Health Care

In recent years there has been a growing interest in incorporating the arts in the medical health care field.  Research has shown that the arts decrease stress, improve communication, and help the healing process. With this information, hospitals, medical centers and care facilities are beginning to incorporate visual arts, music, and writing programs into medical care services.  This more integrative model of health care recognizes the connection of body, mind, and spirit.

Though I do not have a background in health care I am always interested in learning more about how art influences well-being and given that November is Art and Health Month I have been reading information on this subject. I thought I would share a few examples of how different art forms are being used in medical care.

Visual Art

With the recognition that art actually helps people feel better and heal more quickly, Sacred Heart Medical Center in Oregon has worked with an arts consultant for hospitals to select artwork intended to be comforting, orienting and calming to patients and, as a result, help promote their healing.

Another example of the use of visual arts is the Art-Cart program in St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital in Houston, Texas, where a rolling gallery of photographic art work makes the rounds, allowing patients to select images for their room.

Music

Eisenhower Medical Center in southern California has had an arts program in place since 2001 and has a staff of nine musicians, four visual artists and a writer.  The Healing Harps program at this medical center offers patients and staff harp lessons.

“Studies and statistical evidence from major hospitals across the country have shown that relief from anxiety, pain, difficult breathing, nausea and depression are often addressed by the use of live harp music, the special timbre of which induces a deep relaxation response which in turn allows the body to heal itself at a more rapid rate.”

– Healing Harps program description.

Writing

Hospitals around the country have writing groups to help patients heal physically and mentally.  US News carried a story about Sutter Health Systems in California offering a range of writing workshops t patients as well as family members and care givers.

Research indicates that after writing exercises the levels of cortisol, a stress-related hormone that may affect immune levels, are lower and studies have shown that writing about trauma improves the health of people with chronic disease.

Use of the arts in health care is steadily moving forward. The small but growing body of research is demonstrating the positive impact art has on health, healing and well-being.  Further research on this subject along with partnerships between art institutions, schools and heal care organizations will allow for more research and greater engagement between the arts and health.

For More Information

Current Research in Evidence-Based Art Programs From American Art Resources
Future of the Arts and Health Care Green Paper

Getting in Touch with My Creative Side

Getting in Touch with My Creative Side

You can’t use up creativity.
The more you use, the more you have.
Maya Angelou

In addition to working on SpeakArtLoud I have a day job, which means I spend a lot of my time at a computer, busy planning, organizing, researching, writing, scheduling and problem solving.  I have been feeling very plugged in, yet completely disconnected from myself.

I decided that I want to be more in touch with my creative side. And, given that SpeakArtLoud is all about the importance of art in individual and community well-being, I though it only right that I should stay in touch with my own creative side.

The Experiment – Unplug and Create

So, this past week I made an effort to try and experience art and creativity as often as possible. I took a technology break, with only a few minor lapses, and stayed away from my personal email, facebook, twitter and tv for a week.

Here are a few things I did this week to connect with art and creativity:

Here is how I felt at the start of the week:

  • I felt as if I should be doing something
  • I felt anxious
  • I felt like I was missing something
  • I felt guilty for not working
  • I was uncomfortable
  • I did not know what to do with my time
  • I felt unsure and did not know how to get started making art
  • I was worried about getting it right

And by the end of the week:

  • I felt more relaxed
  • I felt happier
  • I laughed a lot more
  • I realized I really liked spending time alone painting
  • I felt like I had accomplished things
  • My environment felt more colorful and energizing
  • I had fun

Facing My Fear

As a non-artist I understand that trying to be creative or to do something artistic can be intimidating. There is a bit of worry that you won’t do it right, it won’t look good or that you won’t even know what to do.  I understand that.  I’ve felt that.  In fact that was my biggest barrier to getting started.

I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas.
I’m frightened of the old ones.
John Cage

Important to be creative

I firmly believe that the creative process is important to health and well-being.  We know that creativity can keep you healthy.   As a non-artist what I create is less important than the actual creative process.  The time I spend thinking, relaxing, letting go and making art is what really matters.  Process is important, relax and let go!

A Few Ideas

If you are feeling stuck or uncomfortable or even fearful about making art here are some sites to visit that might inspire ideas.  Remember, enjoy the creative process!