So, how’s that self care going? If you’re like me, it seems months ago that we celebrated the beginning of 2020. Looking back (!) I had several goals for this year and making healthier choices was top of the list. But, in the last three weeks, have I done much to jump start my goal? I have not.

Except, I have been to the theatre and the cinema, I’ve read a few books, and got back to a craft project that has been languishing in the back of the closet.

What’s the connection? New research[1] is demonstrating a strong link between engagement in the arts and improved mental health. Researchers are finding that being involved in arts and cultural activities can help to protect against a range of mental health conditions, help manage mentally ill health and support recovery.

At Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts, art-therapist-in-residence, Stephen Legari—the first appointed full-time to a museum in North America—says art can be a supplemental remedy for a host of additional ailments, from Alzheimer’s disease to cardiac arrhythmia. So, convinced of the efficacy of the health benefits of the arts, doctors with Médecins Francophones du Canada, in partnership with the Museum, are issuing prescriptions for visits to the Museum.[2]

Loneliness is increasingly understood to contribute to poor health. This period of increasing divisiveness and isolation in our society only adds to our loneliness. Recently, Nancy Pelosi, American Speaker of the House of Representatives, when asked how she planned to help Americans heal from their current state of division said, “Imagination, the creativity of it all, again, to share an experience in a way that puts aside your differences. Imagination, put yourself in another person’s shoes.” Engaging in the performing arts especially is understood to increase empathy and alleviate loneliness.

This is a lot of expectation to put on a single visit to the theatre or singing in a choir. However, as an element of self-care, engaging in creative expression could have an important role in your well-being this year. And it has the distinct advantage of being easier to take than a kale smoothie. So, get out there and knit, dance, sing, and imagine. It’s good for you.

Contact Principal Lucy White at lwhite@localhost.