A Journey to Recovery – How Art Heals the Body, Mind and Soul

Painting is a means of self-enlightenment.” John Olsen 

 

Today I want to discuss the physical benefits to art and having a creative outlet. I was diagnosed with Diabetes and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome at the end of 2012 which turned my world upside down. Now, over half a year on and I am back to having doctors appointments and tests, as I have a condition affecting my legs and joints which should be diagnosed next week.

As one can imagine having these problems on top of my mental illness has been a struggle and challenge. Especially as this has been my busiest year to date for my art. With five solo exhibitions, several group shows, being in The Portsmouth News and becoming an artist in residence at ART SAVES LIVES, it has been wonderful. Not to forget the amazing support I have received from happy customers, gallery owners, mentors and my wonderful little creative army of fans on my social media sites, reaching over 31,000 likes and followers!!

During this whirlwind of excitement, success and gratitude I have been healing myself. I have lost 4 stone and dropped 4 dress sizes as well as many inches all over. I now have a clean living approach and try and eat organic, unrefined, unprocessed, fair trade whole foods. I exercise and concentrate on my therapy for my Personality disorder, Post traumatic stress and anxiety disorder as well as targeted exposure work for my agoraphobia. My husband and I are also trying for a baby, which due to my Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a struggle.

All these things can bog a person down and make the “need” to create art seem an irrelevant task and one which should be put on hold!

This is not correct!!!

When feeling unwell, mentally or physically, when life causes undue stress and anxiety or when caring for others in these situations means your self care goes out the window.

THIS IS WHEN WE SHOULD CREATE!!

Current research is following a number of paths. Scientists measure the natural substances your body produces when you’re exposed to the arts. Others look at what happens when you are active in the creative process. Researchers are now investigating how the arts can help us recover from disease, injury and psychological trauma.

 

Art therapy can help improve various mental and physical symptoms including,  reducing pain, anxiety, and tension. It can be beneficial to those who have mental disorders, cancer, post traumatic stress disorders (PTSD), people who are bipolar, and a variety of other serious ailments.

Megan Robb, a certified art therapist at NIH’s Clinical Centre, says, “When traumatic memories are stored in the brain, they’re not stored as words but as images. Art therapy is uniquely suited to access these memories.”

PTSD - By Charlotte Farhan http://www.charlottefarhanart.com/

PTSD – By Charlotte Farhan
http://www.charlottefarhanart.com/

I have discussed my mental health issues and how art has saved my life, if unfamiliar please follow this link. https://artistcharlottefarhan.wordpress.com/2013/01/21/art-saved-my-life-my-ongoing-struggle-with-mental-illness/

For people with physical disorders art adds meaning to life.

Art is especially important for people with physical challenges as they may not be able to participate in activities as they had in the past. It keeps the mind engaged and lowers stress and pain levels. A recent report from Finnish scientists showed that listening to music helps stroke patients recover both memory and focused attention.

That Day - By Charlotte Farhan http://www.charlottefarhanart.com/

That Day – By Charlotte Farhan
http://www.charlottefarhanart.com/

 

It has also been studied and concluded that there are benefits to cardiovascular, stroke and diabetic patients. Art can reduce blood pressure and music can help irregular heart beats and creative writing can allow people to understand and face their life challenges better.

“By engaging in art, dance, poetry or music, people are likely to initiate processes that help them manage stress, reduce negative mood states and perhaps change behaviour that we know impacts cardiovascular risk and recovery,” ( Joshua Smyth, a psychologist at Syracuse University)

 

So my point is this, art can be a positive new direction which everyone can do a little more of in their lives. Be creative in whatever you wish, engage your inner artist, musician, poet, whatever you decide will only enrich your life as it has done mine.

I may get bad news with my biopsy next week, I may have good and bad days with my long list of ailments, but I assure you the one thing which shall never change is my need to create and my need to inspire you all to do the same.

I not only believe in the healing powers of art I also believe in the healing power of positive energy. I feel with all the challenges life throws at you, you have a choice in which to find a silver lining, a positive over the negative, a way to turn pain, fear and loss into an energy which is filled with positivity which you can pass on throughout your family, friends and community.

Spoon full of sugar - By Charlotte Farhan http://www.charlottefarhanart.com/

Spoon full of sugar – By Charlotte Farhan
http://www.charlottefarhanart.com/

For all of you which may be suffering or caring for      those who do, I send you all my love and support.  You are all in my thoughts whilst I create my art.

I am artist in residence at  ART SAVES LIVES http://artsaveslives.co.uk/

A not-for-profit arts organisation dedicated to  providing free inspirational and inclusive arts  experiences to engage disadvantaged and  marginalised artists in the UK.  Please visit the website and help us to improve peoples lives through art.

 

There is no must in art because art is free.”  Wassily Kandinsky 

 

If you are interested in knowing more about my art, upcoming exhibitions or wish to know more about me please visit my website http://www.charlottefarhanart.com/ and if you would like to contact me please email charlottefarhan83@sky.com

 

5 thoughts on “A Journey to Recovery – How Art Heals the Body, Mind and Soul

  1. You mention self care. Dr SJQ embraces this protocol. Her blog is “A Friend to Yourself.” I do have a degree as CHAP(Certified Holistic Addiction Professional). I am not licensed or in practice but do work the 12 Step rooms for my own recovery and that of others. The MDS and Psychiatrists treat symptoms only(usually with more addictive pills), but the Holistic methods envelopes mind, body and soul as you indicate. Art appreciation therapy is very effective in my opinion.

  2. Wow, a d thank you for allowing us a glimpse into your troubles. Beautifully written and I totally agree with this concept of how art inspires and heals others. People have a mixed conception on our field of work that definitely needs to be addressed as you have done here. Wonderful.

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