A few weeks ago, a friend asked online if anyone had plans for what he called “depression season.”
If I remember correctly, his own plans involved frequently calling in sick to work, gaining 30 pounds and binge-watching entire seasons of TV shows. Of course, he was joking, but his point was valid: sometimes it’s hard to keep your spirits up once the rainy season hits our Island. Fortunately, studies indicate that arts and culture can play a positive role in health and wellbeing, and not only when it comes to depression.
Research suggests that participation in arts activities can help manage persistent pain and other chronic health conditions, including mental health. That’s according to data from the Arts Health Network, a Vancouver-based organization that works to increase awareness and understanding of the role arts-based initiatives play in individual and community health. The group also cites research that suggests being engaged in the arts, even just as a spectator, seems to activate mechanisms in the body, reducing tensions, strengthening the immune system and protecting against depression.
Within a community, the group has found research that suggests participation in these activities may provide stronger positive benefits for health than even participation in sports. Arts participation also seems to enable seniors to live independently longer, to help youth succeed in school and to reduce feelings of isolation and marginalization.
But don’t take my word for it: check out these findings and others at http://artshealthnetwork.ca/.
So what do you say? Get involved with the arts in your community.
• Black & White Ball Fundraiser – This event supports the Society for Arts on the South Island, the non-profit that operates the Coast Collective. Join them at Olympic View Golf Club Oct. 17 for food, live music, silent auction, art-making and more. Tickets are available at coastcollective.ca/
• Absolute beginners, start here: Painting Without Fear, a six-session acrylics program at the Coast Collective kicking off Oct. 21. Check out the details at coastcollective.ca/. If oil paints sound more appealing, check out their six-session oil painting course starting Oct. 22.
• Juan de Fuca Rec Centre offers drop-in pottery studio sessions Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. No experience working in pottery? That’s okay, they have classes too! Check out their course offerings at www.westshorerecreation.ca/
• Metchosin Community House hosts weekly drop-in art sessions – bring your materials and create in the company of others. Newcomers are welcome, but they must purchase a Metchosin Community Association membership. The next drop-in takes place Oct. 14 from 9:30 a.m. to noon.
Johanna Henderson is a volunteer with the Westshore Arts Council and is principal with Shelter Creative Services.