Art. I knew it.

Last year when things were pretty dismal in my life and I kept feeling like I was having the metaphorical rug pulled out from me about once a week, I just felt overwhelmed.  I felt hopeless.  I didn't feel that I had the mental capacity to read or crochet.  Taking a walk or going around people just seemed like more than I could handle.  That's when my art exploded.  I just wanted to draw all of the time.  I had begun doing artwork a year or so before and helped me cope with my Dad's passing and my Mom's Alzheimers, but when everything came raining down on me, I retreated into my art to recover.  It helped immensely.  I personally write bible verses on all of my art, so that got me reading and finding quotes about hope and that helped even more.  I feel like my art pulled me through the tough times.  I would say that most of it is not very good, but sometimes I get lucky and all of the elements on the page blend together and it's good and when I look at it, it makes me feel happy.  In searching the web, I have found that doing art has been proven to make people happier.  I knew it.

Here are a few facts about art and our mental health.

1.  Four out of the six happiest activities are arts related.

2.  It's kind of a chicken and the egg thing,   Creativity Breeds Happiness   "Richards, the researchers note, wrote that day-to-day creativity “is both a cause and consequence of positive development."

3 You don't have to be good at it to reap the benefits.

4.  Just looking at art makes us happier.    


Here are a bunch of art therapy prompts to get you started if you don't know what to do at first.  Expressive Art Inspirations

Coloring in coloring books and doing paint by numbers are also ideas.  I don't know if there have been scientific studies done about these, but they sure are popular right now.

Adults Are Coloring.

Coloring Books for Grownups are a Thing.

Here's one of my drawings without any color, for you to download and color if you'd like.  Right click with your mouse on the picture and you can either select save image or print right from there.

Sing in a choir.

Singing in a choir makes you happier.  It boosts all the good hormones in your brain.

Heres an article:  Slate and here's an excerpt.

"Music is awash with neurochemical rewards for working up the courage to sing. That rush, or “singer's high,” comes in part through a surge of endorphins, which at the same time alleviate pain. When the voices of the singers surrounding me hit my ear, I'm bathed in ...

dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain that is associated with feelings of pleasure and alertness. Music lowers cortisol, a chemical that signals levels of stress. Studies have found that people who listened to music before surgery were more relaxed and needed less anesthesia, and afterward they got by with smaller amounts of pain medication. Music also releases serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of euphoria and contentment."

How cool is that?  

Here are a few more articles for those who like to read everything (like me!) 

Singing Changes Your Brain

Imperfect Harmony  (Love that title!)

10 Reasons to Make Singing Your Happiness.

And from Deep Fun (a site I just love), an article on Complaints Choirs, which joins snarky comments and singing!  So.  Much.  Fun.  You have to go read it and take a listen.  

Here's a directory to find a choir in your area.  ChoralNet   and here's another one.  Vocal Area Network

If you can't find one there, remember most churches have a choir you can join and community theater groups often need ensemble singers.  


Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are!  Go now and watch this video.  I'll wait.

Now spend 2 minutes adopting one of the power poses that make you feel more powerful and able to take on life's challenges.  It's worth 2 minutes of your time to try isn't it?

If for some reason you can't watch the video, here it is summed up.

Wonder Woman Did It Right

Here's a quote.  "Our body language is always influencing how others perceive you, but more importantly, it changes how YOU feel. Amy Cuddy’s research showed that not only does your posture change how you feel, but it also changes your hormone levels in a significant and meaningful way. "

Plan a Vacation!

Even if you can't afford to take one right now, planning one is beneficial to your mental health.  Really.  The optimal thing would be to be able to plan and take several small vacations each year, but if you can't do that, start a little savings fund and do a little planning.  It takes your mind off your troubles.

How Vacations Affect Your Happiness

Do Vacations Make Us Happier?

For more good advice on how to plan a vacation click to read more.  

One thing that can affect your happiness on the trip is to have realistic expectations, a daily plan or itinerary (at least a loose one) to prevent the "what are we going to do"? arguments/discussions that can take up a whole day and to take something you look forward to doing to do during the down-times.  I know that when our family of 5 has to adapt to a hotel room with 1 bathroom, waiting for people to get through the bathroom time to finally get ready to go is something that gets on my nerves.  For us, since we don't have cable TV at home, we often entertain ourselves by watching shows we don't get to watch at home, but sometimes there's not anything we can agree on, so we play board games or walk around the hotel while waiting.  It helps us not to grouch at each other and ruin the mood of the trip.  Also, with kids especially, it's good to have a budget plan and stick to it so that they know not to beg for souvenirs.  You might want to give them some trip spending money.  If you do, don't be critical of their buying choices.  It's budgeted, pretend like it is already spent and don't take this time to lecture them on financial planning.  It's vacation.  Have fun!

Here's a link to some travel planning apps.  Optimize your next vacation.

Personally, I love going on HomeAway and imagining vacationing.  :-)

Here's a fun article about traveling for free!  Budget Travel.  You can house-sit, pet sit, work on an organic farm ... all for free lodging!

Remember, one of the happiest parts about vacation is the planning, when anything is possible, so have fun with it!

Talking to yourself.



Annie Murphy Paul

Three articles but they basically are about the same thing, talking to oneself.  We all have self-talk, whether it's inside our heads or out loud or a combination of the two, but how you refer to yourself, it turns out, is important.

"The way you address yourself matters, too. Research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in February found people who spoke to themselves as another person would—using their own name or the pronoun "you"—performed better under stress than people who used the word "I."

Referring to yourself in the as if you are a friend, using you or your name makes you feel less anxious and less stressed when performing a difficult task.  

I find it fascinating, what do you think?  


Here's the article in the Journal of the American Medical Association.  Coffee to prevent depression?

Here's a quote:  "Conclusions In this large longitudinal study, we found that depression risk decreases with increasing caffeinated coffee consumption. "   

I don't know about you, but I love coffee and increasing my coffee consumption a little bit might not be a bad thing.  :-)  I think it's going to be one of the things that I routinely do, along with getting more sun and eating more yogurt.