Engage in creative activities for your health and well-being

Credit to Author: Nandini Tirumala| Date: Mon, 02 May 2022 21:23:55 +0000

Have you experienced a feeling of joy and relaxation when you engage in the arts?

Creative expressions not only give you temporary periods of positive emotions but can also serve as an outlet to express emotions of anger, disappointment, shame and frustration. It can also boost your self-esteem when you can share your art with others and win appreciation.

Research has shown a positive relationship between creative activities and mental health for people of all ages. During the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown, many individuals shared that picking an artistic pursuit and getting involved in creative activities helped them cope with uncertainties, manage loneliness and develop social connections.

With so many benefits of arts to our mental health and well-being, it is important that newcomers and immigrants take advantage of the various opportunities and programs available in the community.

For many newcomers, engaging in creative arts can help build community and expand their social networks. As immigrants from diverse cultures, connecting with your rich heritage and culture through arts provides a sense of identity and belonging that can be preserved and passed on to younger generations.

Here are a few tips to start and continue to engage with the creative arts for your health and well-being:

Research and learn: Visit the local library, research on the internet or attend concerts and events to explore and learn about the various art forms that are available around you. You will appreciate the diversity of your community and educate yourself about artistic expressions that are unfamiliar to you and the benefits they provide to your body and mind.

Pick an activity: You may choose writing, music, crafts, visual art or performing arts such as theatre or dance based on your aptitude, talent, preference and your own personal resources such as time and money. Also, try something totally new from a different culture as well.

Join a club or organization: There are many programs run by the City’s Department of Parks and Recreation, other cultural organizations and non-profit groups for various levels of learners at low cost. Joining a community choir helps you build communication skills and confidence. Many newcomer and settlement organizations also offer free Art clubs for youth and seniors. to join and showcase their talent at community events.

Find a mentor: If you intend to pursue an art form and develop it further, look for a mentor for guidance or join an arts organization that can help you with the right resources and support. Social media can be very helpful in networking and finding passionate teachers.

Stay connected to your heritage and art forms: There are plenty of opportunities to learn and develop your traditional art forms in Canada as many immigrants with passion and training have made Canada their home. Participate in cultural events and showcase your talent with some help from professional artists and community groups.

The healing power of art to promote wellness for those with chronic illnesses and individuals in recovery has been recognized and supported by health professionals. Art therapy programs are recommended for children and adults under the guidance of trained professionals to explore emotional struggles, be mindful, strengthen coping skills and build resilience.  Programs tailored for seniors in the community have shown to stimulate and reduce cognitive decline due to the ageing process.

Savour the experience when you enroll in these programs, as it is easy to get frustrated and give up if you are looking for perfection as a beginner. Enjoy the connection it brings to your inner self and the social connectivity to others. Be open to feedback and suggestions. Many newcomers with language barriers have shared that it is therapeutic to share their inner feelings without the need for language skills.

Canada provides plenty of opportunities to preserve and express culture, heritage and arts through various commemorative days and funding for various arts programs.  It is important to participate, contribute and support art events that enrich our lives. For instance, May is Asian and South Asian Heritage Month. Let us all put some time aside to reflect, rejuvenate and relish Asian art, culture and traditions. Check for events in your local community or initiate one!

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