This week our Editor-In-Chief, Maira Bay de Souza, writes about the benefits of art for your mental health, and specifically, how an oil painting class can help you relax.
Feeling stressed out? Need some minutes to relax and take a break from your day? Then you might want to try getting artsy! Art is a great way to relax and relieve stress.
I say that from experience because my mother was an art professor and art critic. I grew up visiting countless museums in Europe, attending plays and going to classical music concerts. I was taught at an early age the value of art as a healthy way to deal with your feelings (instead of resorting to drugs or alcohol).
There is a whole branch of psychotherapy dedicated to art as a therapeutic way to work through your emotional challenges. It’s called Art Therapy. If that doesn’t convince you, a study in the American Journal for Public Health states that “creative engagement contributes to many aspects of physiological and psychological conditions typically associated with improved health status.”
If you think art is the right solution for you to relax and relieve stress, where do you start? You can buy the materials and start creating, or you can join a class to learn what it entails – and even to find out which specific type of art is right for you. Would you rather learn to play an instrument? Write? or draw something? And if drawing is your thing, would you rather draw with pencils, watercolour or oil paint?
There are so many options! Attending a one-time class is a great way to decide if that type of art is a good fit for you. I recently attended a class at the Elements Spa Salon (at the Great Wolf Lodge) titled Canvas and Cocktails.
It was a guided oil painting class, given by Aleah Henry, a young artist from Hamilton, ON. Having admired oil paintings for years, I had never actually tried to make one myself. Most of the other 7 people in the class were also first timers. But Aleah made it very easy. She gave very precise instructions, which were also simple enough that a beginner could easily follow.
Aleah is a great teacher. She gave us time to relax between the different stages of the painting process, so we could take in each specific technique that she had just taught us. She also coached students individually when we had questions or needed help. It felt almost like a “personal art trainer”.
Despite it being a guided class, she gave us lots of room for creativity, by saying things like “use as much or as little colour as you want“. It was a very fun and decompressing atmosphere. In fact, while we sat at a large table at the front entrance of the Elements Spa, many of the Lodge‘s guests looked through the tall glass doors at us with curiosity and amusement. I remember hearing a kid’s voice behind me saying “that looks like fun!”
Other than that, we really didn’t hear any outside noise, since the Elements Spa is very well sound proofed. We also had fruits, cheese, sweets and organic wine by Southbrook Vineyards (everyone who was drinking did it in moderation, so there was no “brouhaha“). A perfect combination for a night of fun and making new friends.
Everyone in the class was from the Niagara region. The Elements Spa welcomes the Niagara community, giving 15% off on all spa treatments for locals (except for massage). We all had a good time getting to know each other and having fun.
At the end of the event I felt more relaxed and less worried about the multitude of things that go through my mind on a daily basis. It was a great way to relieve stress and meet new people. I highly recommend this class.
For those who are curious, here is what my painting looked like when finalized:
If you are interested in learning how to paint with oil, the Canvas and Cocktails event runs every other month (taking a break over the Summer). The Elements Spa also provides day passes for local Niagara residents – with the massage being the most popular treatment (you should book 7-10 days in advance).
PS: I also found it really cool that the Elements Spa sells salt lamps and organic cosmetics. I’m a big fan of natural cosmetics, so I will keep the Elements Spa in mind as a place to shop when my current cosmetics run out.
Disclaimer: this article was sponsored by the Elements Spa at the Great Wolf Lodge. If you are interested in sponsoring content, please contact us.