The Impact of using arts to enhance well-being

Posted on: January 28, 2017
Written by: Laura Blischke

Art-making has been a source of healing since the prehistoric days and has stayed an essential nutrient in human culture (Serlin, 2007). Serlin reminds us that creative acts of art “touch the depth of soul, evoke imagination, engage emotions and serene thought” while expressing the whole complex person (2007, p. 107).

 In the words of George Balanchine’s legendary muse and ballerina Suzanne Farrell, “the arts were, because life didn’t measure up to be what you wanted it to be” (Farrell, 2015). The use of arts in health endeavors to engage art to promote well-being in individuals.

Each human being possesses an innate ability for creativity. The use of arts and creative activities provide many benefits that include promotion of well-being and quality of life and allows individuals to express what is important to them while creating meaning (Fraser, Bungay, & Munn-Giddings, 2014). The arts also have the
ability to decrease or relieve anxiety and aid in emotional, mental, and physical recovery while providing supportive environments for individuals in healthcare, community, or hospital settings. While we often consider benefits to individuals with a present need, the arts also deliver benefits to caregivers and family members encouraging opportunities for self-expression through art activities.  

Arts for Health Florida is centered on the practice of thousands across the state who are inviting the collaboration between medical professionals and the art community. One of the goals of AFHFL is to actively and effectively steward the conversations among this bridged community to enhance health and well-being.

The following article expresses how creative engagement affects well-being. The author, Cathy Malchiodi reflects on two current studies that discuss creativity and
positivity, and creativity and mortality. Sociologist Brene Brown captures this universality, noting “The only unique contribution that we will ever make is this world will be born of our creativity” (Malchiodi, 2016).

“Creativity and Emotional Well-Being: Recent Research”:

Farrell, S. (Speaker) (2015). An Informal Discussion with Suzanne Farrell. Suzanne Farrell Workshop for Young Dancers. Lecture conducted from Florida State
University, Tallahassee.
Fraser, A., Bungay, Hl, & Munn-Giddings, C. (2014). The value of the use of participatory arts activities in residential care settings to enhance the well-being and quality of life of older people: A rapid review of the literature. Arts &b Health, 6(3), 266-278. doi:10.10801/17533015.2014.923008
Malchiodi, C. (2016). Creativity and Emotional Well-Being: Recent Research. Retrieved January 2017 from
Serlin, I. A. (2007). Whole Person Healthcare Volume 3: The Arts and Health. Sonke-Henderson, J., Brandman, R., Graham-Pole, J. (Eds.). Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.

ArtFUL Aging

Posted On: December 5, 2016
It is no surprise that what makes the arts so powerful is its ability to challenge the mind and body, initiate engagement, provide a means to express and share culture, provide opportunities to create, and allow for emotional expression. But most of all, the arts need to be accessible. Providing arts programming for older adults helps combat loneliness and isolation. Challenging one’s intellect is vital to keeping one’s mind bright and present in the moment.

Our featured article takes a look at how employing different artistic expressions, theatre, visual arts, music, and dance, provide an outlet for the aging community to reach down into those hard-to-get-to feelings and inspire a brighter and more vibrant future through life.

Research shows that creativity increases with age, especially in those who are older. Individuals who create while in their sixties, seventies, eighties, and nineties have relatively few heart related issues, and less depression. Let’s face it, the arts are good for you! Those in the field of creative aging, including the late psychiatrist Dr. Gene Cohen, have been able to demonstrate the positive impact cultural programming has on one’s emotional, physical, and intellectual health. However, finding programs for older adults until recently has been difficult.

For Maura O’Malley and Ed Friedman, who had become involved in caregiving, finding suitable programs for older adults had not been successful so they started their own. Lifetime Arts, founded in 2006, uses libraries to provide arts programming for individuals ages 55 and over. Currently, Lifetime Arts has over 20 major library programs taught by recognized teaching artists. Each eight-week program ends in a culminating event such as a performance or other opportunity.

Programs that use theatre allow seniors who often have a largely invisible presence, to have a voice. It has been found that theatre arts enhance healthy cognitive aging and require memory recall which contributes to staying in the moment.

Equally, art that is viewed or created in social atmospheres allows the mind to continually be stimulated. A concept for promoting this stimulation is through inter-generational programs. Working side-by-side, students and older adults are given the opportunity to share life experiences that will enrich both.

The benefits that the arts provide include increased creative capacity, bonding, and connecting with others. It is up to all of us to be advocates for and to make sure that everyone has access to participatory arts programming; those that help keep individuals connected and healthy throughout life.

Raschke, H. (Ed.). (n.d.). Artful Aging: How Creativity Sparks Vitality and Transforms Lives. Retrieved December 03, 2016, from


Self-care for caregivers

Posted On: November 4, 2016
Caring for a loved one has many rewards, but doing so can leave one feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, alone, frustrated, and angry. Caring for another can also take a physical and emotional toll on those providing the care. 

The Mayo Clinic (n. d.) has determined informal caregivers, those who aren’t health professionals, contribute to up to 80 percent of long-term care in the United States. As a caregiver focused on a loved one, you may not recognize the importance of your own well-being and self-care. Incorporating self-care practices can lead to a healthy and more balanced life. Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Taking care of you is important! Below are some ideas for self-care:

o  Go for a walk
o  Draw or paint
o  Listen to music
o  Attend a cultural event
o  See a movie 
o  Allow support from others
o  Write in a journal
o  Get a massage
o  Join a book club
o  Take an art class
o  Spend time with friends

Self-care is self-initiated and unique to each person. Make a list of the ways you can enhance your own well-being and health. When you take care of self, you become rejuvenated and are far more equipped to care for others.

Credits to: Lavers, K. (n.d.). Pen on Paper Meditations. Retrieved from
Mayo Clinic Staff (n.d.). Stress management. Retrieved from

Art Treat Exercise
A self-care exercise to share with all of you is from artist Kirsten Lavers. Her website at reflects her work “Admitting the Possibilities of Error”. Kirsten began this work during a stressful and demanding project that left her with little time or energy to be creative. What transpired was a unique drawing with interesting lines and shapes, all created by making mistakes and errors. 


The Impact of using arts to enhance well-being