The Benefits of Art For Health

Picking up the paintbrush and heading towards the canvas, or whatever form of fun art projects you chose, is often more than just an exercise in aesthetics, but instead also imparts health benefits for a growing number of people. The link between health and art may seem vague at first, but when you look at the human individual holistically, one of the first things that the discriminating eye will notice is that health consists of more than just the proper functioning of various physiological and biological components. Instead, there are various other aspects to health that create a holistically healthy person.

Mind over matter
If you have ever executed a particularly excellent color passage in your artworks, or if you have ever rendered a figure in a satisfying way, and if in general you have been enjoying the arts, one of the impressions you get from artistic endeavors is not only skills, but a sense of fulfillment that reaches a psychological level. Studies today are suggesting, however, that the same psychological fulfillment that is found in art activities has actual physiological effects as well. Parts of the brain secrete hormone during art activities which foster better health. These hormones are considered happy hormones by many scientists, and include endorphins which are released during stimulating events.

Happy hormones
The physiological effects of happy hormones include increased blood circulation, better sense perception, as well as an increase in the performance of the immune system. While further research and development studies are needed to fully establish the connection between art and health, one thing that scientists and doctors are concluding is that health is more than just a combination of vitamins and supplements, a good diet, and physical workouts and exercise. It also includes recreation. In fact, companies and large corporations are beginning to see correlations between personnel performance and employees who are holistically healthy.

Healthy lifestyles
Health and fun art projects also naturally go together because a healthy lifestyle is often necessary for many delicate artistic maneuvers. In painting and sculpture, for instance, one of the recommendations is to avoid smoking which can lead to shaky hands which are bad for painting in details especially in smaller canvasses. Many artists also find that a healthy lifestyle which includes exercise, plenty of sleep, and a good diet are some of the most artistically stimulating conditions for creating works of arts, contrary to popular and often exaggerated notions of the starved and homeless artist.

Artistic options
Progressive doctors on the cutting edge of these new developments are now including forms of artistic recreation in the medical prescription to ensure that patients with health problems are better able to cope with their various diseases. One of the primary reasons why art is so useful in the healing process is that, aside from the hormonal discharges that result from satisfying art activities, it is also one of the least physically straining activities that an invalid can enjoy. Aside from this, fun art projects come in various form allowing greater options for the patient to choose from. For instance, painting is just one of the many artistic endeavors that a person can indulge in, and already there are many sub-categories and options within the field of painting alone. You can try out oil painting, water color painting, gouache painting, and even mixed media.

Health and Martial Arts

In today’s society, the sedentary lifestyle is the norm. We may sit at a computer all day at work, or we may spend our evenings mindlessly flipping through the TV channels. From our physical, to emotional, to mental health the majority of North Americans do little to improve our fitness. Martial arts training has been shown to have a number of positive benefits for our minds and bodies as it incorporates strength training, aerobic training, stretching, and mental focus exercises. Indeed, through martial arts, enthusiasts experience not only positive body changes but improvements in mental acuity and focus as well as stress management.

As is the case with any form of exercise, it may take several weeks for an individual to visibly notice physical improvements. Nevertheless, in just a few weeks martial arts training helps to improve cardiovascular fitness while also lowering blood sugar and blood pressure. Generally speaking, practitioners start to experience higher energy levels while also shedding unwanted pounds and improving flexibility. Indeed, the regular practice of martial arts can help to reduce the risk for a wide range of illnesses from hypertension and diabetes to heart disease, respiratory disease, and obesity.

Similarly, martial arts can also have an impressive impact on an individual’s mental health. Some research has shown that consistent training can lead to changes in brain chemistry which ultimately translates to positive change in emotional, behavioural, and physiological states. One of the most common benefits of training with respect to mental health is mood elevation. As a practitioner begins to master new techniques and climb the belt ranking system, feelings of self confidence and esteem are heightened or begin to emerge. Moreover, mood elevation and heightened energy levels provide with improved resistance to depression, anxiety, and even physical illnesses. Through martial arts, you may learn better coping skills as you develop better focus and self discipline.

Many of the benefits of practicing directly related to increased physical activity. Adults know that you must get regular exercise in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Not only does MMA provide the perfect opportunity to improve your physical and mental health, but it values mutual respect and discipline. While you are learning new skills and techniques in the field of martial arts, you are working in a community of practitioners. You begin to build relationships that encourage your continued focus on the arts and your health.

More importantly, martial arts takes a comprehensive approach to health so practitioners are given an unprecedented opportunity to address their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health as one in the same. Through systematic practice, health benefits are wide ranging and include improvements in strength, stamina, flexibility, movement, and more.

Art Therapy Wellness Solution

WHAT IS ART THERAPY?

Art therapy, as defined by the American Art Therapy Association, is the therapeutic use of making art, within a professional relationship, by people who have experienced illness, trauma or challenges that have caused varying degrees of dysfunction within their lives. Art therapy is helpful for people who seek personal development through creating art and reflecting on their artwork and the process of making art. Through art therapy an increased awareness of self is developed. The self that emerges through the creation of art in art therapy is enhanced and stabilized, enabling one to cope with challenges, stresses and trauma. The learning process is enriched through creating art and enjoyment of art making increases self awareness, cognitive abilities and defines the life-affirming pleasures of making art.

The American Art Therapy Association promotes established standards for art therapy education, ethics and practice. Volunteer committees composed of members and other experts in the field actively work on governmental affairs at the national and state level, clinical issues and professional development. The Association’s dedication to continuing education and research is demonstrated through its annual national conference, publications, its distance learning capacity which is in development and national awards recognizing excellence in the field of art therapy.

HOW ART THERAPY DEVELOPED

Throughout history, Visual expression has been used for the purposes of healing, but art therapy did not emerge as a distinct profession until the 1940s. Early in the 20th century, psychiatrists became increasingly interested in the artwork their patients with mental illness created. And educators were discovering that children’s art expressions reflected developmental, emotional, and cognitive growth. The work of many contemporary artists of that time used both primitive and child-like styles to express psychological perspectives and dispositions (Dubuffet, Picasso, Miro and Braque, for example.)

By the mid-century, hospitals, clinics, and rehabilitation centers increasingly began to include art therapy programs along with the more traditional verbal therapy techniques, recognizing that the process of creating art enhanced recovery, health, and wellness. As a result, the profession of art therapy grew into an effective and important method of communication, assessment, and treatment of children and adults in a variety of settings. Today, the profession of art therapy has gained importance in healthcare facilities throughout the United States and within psychiatry, psychology, counseling, education, and the arts.

WHAT DOES AN ART THERAPIST DO?

Art therapists, as defined by the American Art Therapy Association, are masters level professionals who hold a degree in art therapy or a related field. Educational requirements include: theories of art therapy, counseling, and psychotherapy; ethics and standards of practice; assessment and evaluation; individual, group, and family techniques; human and creative development; multicultural issues; research methods; and practicum experiences in clinical, community, and/or other settings. Art therapists are skilled in the application of a variety of art modalities (drawing, painting, sculpture, and other media) for assessment and treatment.

Art therapists are professionals trained in both art and therapy. They are knowledgeable about human development, psychological theories, clinical practice, spiritual, multicultural and artistic traditions, and the healing potential of art. They use art in treatment, assessment and research, and provide consultations to allied professionals. Art therapists work with people of all ages: individuals, couples, families, groups and communities. They provide services, individually and as part of clinical teams, in settings that include mental health, rehabilitation, medical and forensic institutions; community outreach programs; wellness centers; schools; nursing homes; corporate structures; open studios and independent practices.

An art therapist requires a license to practice art therapy. Art therapy licensing differs from state to state.

WHO BENEFITS FROM ART THERAPY?

Art therapy addresses a part of the brain that is often functional when other parts are dysfunctional or not functioning well.

Many can benefit from art therapy, including hospitalized children, teens, adults and the elderly. In addition, art therapy benefits the mentally ill. In many cases, those with depressions, fear and anxiety caused by trauma or developmental challenges have difficulty expressing their deep feeling. Creating art often allows them to begin to become released from their own dysfunctions.

The elderly, and particularly Alzheimer’s patients, suffering from varying degrees of memory loss, time and space dysfunction do to aging can respond to drawing, painting and sculpting and begin to take control and regain some of these lost capabilities.

Studies have shown that art therapy sessions with the elderly have encouraged memory and brain function–creative movement has reduced the risks of falls and accidents and encourages balance and movement. The Museum of Modern Art in New York has a program called “Meet and MOMA.” On Tuesdays, when the Museum is usually closed, group of Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers tour the galleries. The stimulation of seeing and discussing artwork enriches their lives and stimulates them mentally. Since the establishment of this program, many patients have exhibited marked improvement in memory, cognitive awareness and self expression.

Art therapy helps prisoners address their angers, fears, and resentments. Through creating, they begin to see themselves and realize what motivated them to commit a crime. And art making gives many a chance to develop a skill that can enrich, not only their lives, but the lives of others.

Art and the creative process brings balance, self-esteem and enjoyment to anyone who is challenged by mental or physical disabilities. Through the creative process, deep-seated feelings emerge in an gentle, nurturing atmosphere. People are enabled to meet their worst fears, anxieties and challenges by doing artwork that expresses that challenge. When it is identified, view and discussed, often the overwhelming proportion is diminished. In a group, the participants realize that others have fears and problems also, just like them. Eating disorders can be addressed and in some cases, cured by creativity because the underlying cause of the disorder is often hidden and emerges through the art work.

HOW ART THERAPY WORKS

Art therapy, active in a professional setting, creates a sense of self, that which is often lost in the elderly, Alzheimer’s patients or those with mental illness. Sensory stimulation through art making fills in where there is a deficit of sense of self and sensory stimulation. This is proven through the use of any and all uses of art materials and skills, including painting, drawing, water color, collage or sculpture.

For example, collage creates a sense of putting things back together and connectedness. Creating a collage deals with the juxtaposition of identifiable images that resonate in the individuals’ experience and can bridge the communication gap between the anxiety or fear a person feels and the outside world. Making art externalizes and through discussion with an art therapist who can interpret what the art work says relative to the patient’s behavior and challenges, the patient can begin to identify that which impedes their thinking and balanced growth.

As evidenced by the Meet At MOMA Program, Alzheimer’s affects that part of the brain that makes memories. The parietal lobe is stimulated by art. When a patient looks at a painting, the painting encourages a dialogue with the viewer. Questions and interpretations of the visual response develop. Those that cannot remember their name or the names of their loved ones, can often, talk about what they see in a painting and be clear about their own interpretations of the painting. Often memories are stimulated as well, and things forgotten come into the dialogue.

When those in art therapy are given paints, pencils, clay, or collage materials, a here and now, active stimulation begins. Through work with the hands, imagination is stimulated and, it has recently been discovered that the imagination will be there when the rest of the brain is dysfunctional through a progressive disease such as Alzheimer’s.

There is an important need to get thoughts and feelings out in some way, especially in teens, adults and the elderly. It has been evidenced that very young children who have not yet learned how to express themselves verbally, will grab a crayon and begin drawing naturally. Older persons are challenged because they are at a loss to express themselves, but can find balance and enrichment in painting or drawing.

Art therapy demonstrates that creativity is a deep core need in all of us and that making a painting will help one remember, recall the past that had been forgotten.

There is another value to art therapy, as well. Institutionalized people, those in prisons, nursing homes and hospitals often feel they are just a number or a file. Art therapy gives them back their individuality. These people are given back a sense of control over their lives that they had to give up for going into an institutionalized environment.

And in a hospital setting, especially for people with a cancer diagnosis–it is often very difficult to talk about it. Art gives them an opportunity to express the way they feel, come into control and alignment with their feelings and give them, through the art therapist, a perspective on their life.

ART THERAPY ON A GLOBAL SCALE

In Saudi Arabia, a psychological and religious counseling program for militants has been developed incorporating art therapy for imprisoned Jihadists. This successful rehabilitation program came into operation today as the result of the Saudi’s commitment to lessening the production of home grown Jihadists.

The International Medical Corp provides clinical support for people on the front lines of disaster and uses art therapy to rehabilitate victims of war, famine, political upheaval, and natural disasters.

The National Geographic Society has supplied cameras to people in Uganda to take pictures of their lives and work through the pain and loss they have experienced through war. Ultimately, what we are discovering is that no one is safe from the anxieties, challenges and fearful factors of every day life. And, as we begin to realize that physical health and mental health often are integrated and dependent on each other, the role of the art therapist becomes more and more important in addressing our well being the development and maintenance of our total well being.

Martial Arts Success – 10 Top Tips!

10 top martial arts tips for your success! There are plenty of great martial arts available that offer you a way of challenging yourself, through which mastery can be achieved. You can learn discipline, focus, breath control, balance, awareness, power and inner strength.

Martial arts study has a long tradition, and the techniques of Japanese arts go back to the Samurai. In Japan the practise is often combined with budo and zen to achieve balance and harmony.

Since the dawn of time human beings have striven to push back the limits of their strength and wisdom. The Combat arts and aikido self defence offer you a method for Personal Challenge and self-discovery.

There are lots of different types of budo as seen by the numerous martial arts available today. They all teach the abandonment of ego, attachments and personal desires, and skills are transmitted from master to student.

Zen adds a level of wisdom to the physical and mental strength that is developed. As a warrior on the path, it is your duty to follow the laws of nature and serve humanity. The place for mastery of self is in the awareness of every moment.

In Budo there is no time for conscious thought… intention and action must be immediate with peace and tranquility of movement. It begins and ends with etiquette, courtesy and gratitude, otherwise your practise can become dangerous to others and rather brutal.

The following list gives some essential requirements for achieving martial arts excellence, real practical self defense and the ability to really protect yourself, your loved ones and the community.

1 – A reasonable level of health, fitness and stamina.

2 – Developing a positive mental attitude.

3 – An Awareness of your surrounding environment.

4 – Study a complete fighting system… don’t jump around.

5 – Practise – train hard to fight easy.

6 – Have a definite plan of action – a time frame.

7 – Keep it simple, flexible and adaptable.

8 – Be prepared to deliver a preemptive strike.

9 – Retreat is a natural and good response to an attack.

10 – Morality, ethics and the law require that you use minimum force.

Here’s to your training success!

Tony Wilden

Aikido Health Centre

Tony Wilden has been studying health and spirituality for over 30 years and Aikido since 1985. He founded the Arun Aikido Club in West Sussex UK in 1992, and has given dozens of demo’s and 1000′s of health treatments.

Programs in Healing Arts

Students, who are drawn to natural health and holistic healing methods, find that programs in healing arts provide in-depth education and training in the philosophies, practices, and principles of a number of unique health modalities.

While many programs in healing arts are more concentrated in the area of bodywork, there are a growing number of holistic health courses that are geared toward natural health like reflexology, acupressure, aromatherapy, flower essences, and holistic nutrition.

If you’re an adult learner and would like to enroll in programs in healing arts to earn a diploma or certificate, there are varieties of educational options; including on-campus programs or home study courses — which you can complete from the convenience of your pc or laptop. Some examples of home study programs include iridology, aromatherapy, and home herbal remedies.

Programs in healing arts like therapeutic massage often require about 300-500 hours of practical training. These programs are in-depth, and entail courses in kinesiology, deep tissue massage, Swedish massage, and sports massage; in addition to massage therapy history and principles, CPR, and first aid, among other relative studies.

Aromatherapy, herbal medicine, holistic health, kinesiology, and iridology often go hand-in-hand in some programs in healing arts. These courses teach prospective natural healers how to facilitate specific diagnostic methods (of kinesiology and iridology) to determine which natural health treatment or combination of health treatments is best for the client.

Other specialty programs in healing arts like reflexology, acupressure, or animal massage can usually be completed in less than six months. While all three of these programs are associated to bodywork, they typically incorporate energy healing techniques as well. Students, who enroll in these programs, learn the fundamentals of treating the whole individual through balanced and energetic touch therapy.

If you (or someone you know) are interested in learning more about these or other holistic medicine programs, let professional training within fast-growing industries like massage therapy, naturopathy, acupuncture, Oriental medicine, Reiki, and others get you started! Explore programs in healing arts near you.

Martial Arts For Health

True natural martial arts movement may be different than most people think or even know about. For hundreds of years martial arts were used not only as a means of self-defense but also to rejuvenate the body with forms and movements.

Martial arts for health is about the various health benefits you may encounter from doing one of the many fighting arts or taking up activities normally associated with the arts. Training in the martial arts and fighting sports does give you potential benefits – physical as well as mental.

Some aspects of martial arts for health are easier to verify than others. Anything that happens on a physical level is easier to test and document. On the other hand, psychological and mental phenomenon is much harder to evaluate and back up with “hard science and facts”.

Does this mean that we should say it isn’t “real” or “true” simply because we cannot test and document the mental and psychological benefits of the fighting arts like we can with physiology and anatomy, blood-levels, heart-rate, lung capacity, mobility, strength and so on. I for one think we should be aware that these “non-physical” benefits are real for those who experience them! But at the same time, let us not forget that they also are more subjective by nature.

Practicing martial arts will do you good. Martial arts for health are about the whole person, not “just” the physical body! You can have a try and you will see the good result after a period of practice.