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The Beauty Of Art As Self-Care

We live in a time where having a ‘side hustle’ is glorified and where keeping up with the ‘grind’ is a necessity to keep up with the ridiculous costs that come with living in this tight economy. The metropolitan life we are accustomed to is a busy highway, filled with intersections of different stressors that affect our well-being; mentally, physically and emotionally. Almost as a way to nourish ourselves and to have a well-deserved breather from this hectic lifestyle, threads upon threads of ‘self-care routines’ have been introduced and circulated throughout the internet. Practicing self-care is simply implementing practices that are kind to yourself and your body. It is also synonymous with self-compassion; treating yourself with the same kindness you would extend to someone else.

From dripping lavender-scented essential oils on our pillows to ease in a goodnight’s sleep to splurging on Korean sheet face masks cos #TreatYoSelf – users on social media have provided countless ways for people to try out different self-care routines. The self-care practices that are often recommended online to guide others almost always has to do with purchasing something or doing things that are aesthetically pleasing enough for a photo on the ‘gram. It could be planning a really expensive weekend retreat to a tropical location with friends or buying an overpriced organic galactic bubble bath bomb- all recommendations highlighting the capitalist nature of the society that we live in. But, what if your wallet has seen better days or you’d just rather spend your hard-earned wages on basic necessities; like paying off that internet bill so that you can read your favorite posts online, like this one?

Self-care is not always a glamorous and cute occasion that can fit four borders of an edited Instagram post. It can be boring, tiresome and can take a long time before you find self-care practices that work for you. That is where the beauty of artistry appears on the scene as a saving grace. Art is arguably the best self-care practice any and everyone can partake in. Art often gets overlooked when self-care lists make their rounds on social media explore pages, with the center of attention on those lists being experiences and lavish products that require a monetary transaction. Practicing art encourages creative explorations which in turn promotes mindfulness and provides a path to destress. Submerging yourself in the world of art and artistry enhances self-expression and knowledge of self. When you create art in any form, you make decisions on what shapes and colors you enjoy and what you want you to envision your art to look like as a final piece. Making these choices demands you look within your inner selves as you access which elements do not bring joy. Not only do we listen to our inner voices when we create art, but we also work on self-expression as we are making an external representation of what our thoughts are and what happens inside our minds.

There are boundless opportunities to create art through activities like dancing, photography and even curating an Instagram page filled with the content of whatever brings a smile on your face. Writing is one of the biggest forms of using art as a means of self-care. Composing articles on events and thoughts that you are passionate about and submitting it to online zines or even to your own blog can open a door to a whole new world of creativity and inspiration. It has also been proven that writing can build confidence, help remove emotional barriers, and increase your ability to be more understanding towards yourself and towards others. Painting is also a fun and exciting art form that everyone can do. With some paintbrushes and cheap paint from a bargain store, you can channel your inner Frida Kahlo and paint whatever your heart desires. Painting is a ‘visual dance of the imagination’ and whatever you transfer on any medium can provide a means of communication and feelings. You can even host a fun social painting event with a group of friends, over some cheese and wine. This will not only foster your creativity but will also strengthen your bonds between you and your Gyal dem.

If you can’t paint on an easel and canvas, you can shift that flow of creativity on the next best thing close to a masterpiece; your face. Makeup can provide a platform to practice self-expression through the creation of fun and daring looks. It doesn’t matter that you don’t have the latest Morphe brush, the best-selling MAC eyeshadow palette or if your blending skills are not flawless. While you experiment with the endless makeup looks, you can appreciate and thank every crease, every dimple and every beauty spot that your unique face has been blessed with. Who needs a coloring book when you can paint your cheeks rosy pink or swipe on an electric blue eyeshadow! If you’d want to practice some incredible but easy looks, NBGA has a list of video makeup tutorials that can take you to from a glossy glazed goddess to achieving your supersonic hypnotic mint fairy fantasies.

It’s no problem if you aren’t one to paint or explore with makeup if you don’t have the time, the ability or the resources to create your own art. The act of consuming other people’s creations is good enough and replicates the same feelings as it would consuming your own art. According to a famous psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, getting involved in various arts and crafts or activities, allows us to be immersed in a ‘flow state’, which is a perfect state of balance, skill, and challenge. Not only has it been shown that partaking in arts and crafts allows for the brain to release stress and has shown other benefits to mental health such as an increase in happiness and confidence. It also sharpens our cognitive abilities and improves memory and problem-solving skills.

Self-care is an important thing to practice to maintain a healthy and loving relationship with yourself. Eventually, the effects of incorporating self-care routines will trickle into the relationships that you have with others around you. So! Pick up that manuscript you have been putting aside for months and continue writing, submit that post to that online zine that you like so much, put on some dirty dungarees and let the paintbrush slide across the canvas, or watch your favorite Youtuber and practice along with makeup. Find the thing that brings you a sense of calm and just do it!

By Stephanie Rost