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Art Therapy: Painting a Happier Life

Art Therapy: Painting a Happier Life

In one memorable episode of Mr. Bean, Bean (Rowan Atkinson) attends an adult education day at a local school. When it’s time for art class, he sits down and begins drawing fruit, only to look up and realize that a nude model has appeared. Uncomfortable, he goes over to the clay station, where he creates two clay pots to put over her breasts. The art teacher is not pleased, but Bean finishes his painting and leaves the class proudly.

You may prefer a stiller life, like Mr. Bean, but whatever kind of art class suits you, research shows that if you are dealing with depression or other emotional issues, picking up a paintbrush can give your mental health a significant boost. The research, published in the International Journal of Health Promotion, tracked people’s mental health after taking a 12-week art class. Immediately after taking the class, a questionnaire showed that 80 percent of people felt more positive and reported improved relationships with others. Three months later, people still reported higher levels of positive mental health and social engagement. After six months, levels dipped slightly, but were still higher than before taking the class.

So, don’t miss out; tap into your creative side, everybody has one. If you feel reluctant to give it a try, it might be easier if you enlist an art buddy—just like a workout buddy. Whether it’s sculpting, painting or drawing, art therapy could make you feel more confident and increase your engagement with others.

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