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5 April 2018
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Recognising the contribution that the arts make to our health and well being.

Arts based approaches can help people stay well, recover faster, manage long term conditions and experience a better quality of life.

Artscrafts

When life suddenly stops.

Being diagnosed with a chronic lung condition can be worrying. It changes your life forever. Simple every day actives such as washing and dressing can take you twice as long. Being short of breath may make it difficult to keep up with friends and extreme coughing fits can be embarrassing in public. Sudden attacks of breathlessness can be really scary, especially if you’re away from home, your medication and your nebuliser. Life takes careful planning as rushing not only increases your breathlessness but your anxiety too. All this can lead to feelings of frustration, anxiety and depression. Mental health when dealing with any chronic illness is just as important as physical health. More and more research is finding a correlation between the two. Usually if you feel isolated, you can do things to help improve your mood, but if you have a lung condition those things might not be possible anymore. It can be much more of a challenge to get out of the house and meet friends to socialise, or keep active. Some form of exercise helps everyone with a lung condition and you can read more about why and find out how to get active on this blog post: Can you improve your lung function?

The beneficial impact of the arts? 

The arts can help keep us well, aid our recovery and support longer lives better lived?

Over recent years, there has been a growing understanding of the impact that taking part in the arts and creative expression can have on health and wellbeing. By supplementing medicine and care, the arts can improve the health of people who experience mental or physical health problems. Engaging in the arts can promote prevention of disease and build wellbeing. The arts help meet challenges in health and social care associated with ageing, loneliness, long-term conditions and mental health. Getting involved in the arts provides both social and creative outlets for people who are ill, either with physical health issues or mental health issues. There are many ways in which this can work but essentially they are all about the effect that active engagement can have on the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities.

Musician

Arts therapies include Art, Dance Movement, Drama and Music.

Arts therapies allow you to let go of your anxiety and use your imagination for something positive, rather than for thinking up negative situations. You do not need to have any artistic skill or previous experience of dance, drama, music or visual art to find arts therapies helpful. The aim isn't to produce a great work of art, but to use what you create to understand yourself better. If you choose to work with a therapist they can help you process emotions and feelings that you are struggling with, so you can begin healing. These days many care homes, GP surgeries and hospitals, as well as community settings, provide opportunities for people to engage with the arts as a tool to improving their wellbeing. Charities and voluntary organisations such as MIND can help you discover and access what is available in your area. The British Lung Foundation can help with Breathe Easy and singing groups.

Carol and her fellow members of the Wigan Warblers indulge their creative expression through song. Evidence shows that singing can be joyful and uplifting, bringing positive feelings and helping to lift your mood even if you're feeling sad or depressed. Singing with a choir brings the added bonus of boosting your confidence as well as making you feel less isolated. More recently, research has shown that singing can also help people living with a long term lung conditions. It can improve your health-related quality of life, be a fun group activity to reduce social isolation, help improve your posture as well as increase the strength of your voice. One way it does this is by encouraging you to breathe more slowly and deeply. You can read more of how this happens on the blog here - Exercising your airways - and read Carols story in her own words on this blog post - Carol's Christmas Carol.

Going it alone. 

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life it’s easy for our mental and emotional health to take a back seat. Most of us get sidetracked by errands, jobs, duties, children, cooking; the list goes on. Add in the stress of a chronic illness and life can get pretty tricky. Creative activities impact the body in a way similar to meditation. It’s like yoga for your brain. It is something you can do on your own or with other people to just relieve stress and discover yourself in new ways. Community centres, private organisations and local colleges offer workshops in all types of creative crafts such as drawing and painting, pottery, floristry, music, photography, design, and the performing arts. If you have a chronic illness there may be funding available to help with the cost and if you’re unsure why not start with a small friendly group, such as a book club, or local project your GP or local library should have details of those that are on your doorstep.

You don’t even need to produce something in order to de-stress. Simply observing creativity or a cultural event decreases psychological stress. Attending a concert, visiting a museum or exhibition, going to the theatre can allow you to bask in the creativity of others while reaping their meditative benefits. It can improve your mood, relieve stress and cultivate your social life. It’s truly a beautiful thing when you’re sharing art in an open, friendly, loving environment with other people that are on the same wavelength.

Craftsarts

Let us help.

And that’s where we come in. We’re still surprised when we speak to people who don’t realise how small and portable nebulisers can be. Or how versatile and adaptable they are. Being diagnosed with a chest condition like COPD or developing brittle asthma doesn’t mean life has to stop. It may not be the same as before but you can still get out and about to explore new horizons, reigniting a forgotten passion or discovering a new you. Portable nebulisers are not just for holidays, they can be there to support you whatever your artistic or creative passion, however far you venture from home. Having the added security of knowing your therapy is at hand can increase your confidence, giving you that extra boost to step outside your comfort zone. The mental and emotional benefits gained from creative and cultural events and activities play a huge role in achieving long-term wellness. Hopefully, you will feel inspired to pick up a pen or paintbrush, enrol in a class or attend an exhibition. Start small, and let your creative power run wild. Every little bit counts.

Photo credits: rawpixel.comBilal

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