OFFER 21st of March 2023

The Healing Power of Art: A Path to Wellness

It's no secret that art can move us, inspire us, and stir emotions within us. Read on to learn about how engaging with art can also positively impact our physical and mental health.

* This content mentions depression, anxiety, and trauma, which some people may find triggering.

“Art has the power to heal and transform us, just as wellness has the strength to nourish and strengthen us.” - Lai Yan, Founder of Onecare.

Health and wellness no longer refer to being in a state that is absent of physical illness but has taken the new meaning of being physically, mentally, and emotionally sound. A quick sweep of the internet will reveal that it is saturated with tips and tricks on how to build a healthy diet, how to get enough exercise in a week, how to take mindful rest, and more - all in the pursuit of wellness. 

However, there is one topic that you may find to be slightly less known than the others, but rapidly increasing in favor - that is, the connection between art and wellness. In recent years, there has been a growing body of research that suggests art can improve health in a variety of colorful ways. This is especially true for individuals who have struggled with mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and trauma. 

One artist who has been open about his struggles with depression and anxiety is Tim Burton. Burton materialized his struggles in his creations, ultimately making such an impact that it earned him the term “Burtonesque”, which is commonly used to describe artwork that is similar to his world-renowned imaginative and visually stunning film-making style. In particular, he is known for his unique blend of horror and quirkiness in his character design and storytelling, often featuring themes of loneliness and alienation. Despite these darker themes, his work is beloved by many and has inspired countless artists around the world. 

Tim Burton, behind the scenes on the set of The Nightmare Before Christmas. Photo credit: KOL Nation

Tim Burton's work is a perfect embodiment of the relationship between art and mental health. According to the artist, Burton uses his art as a way to express his emotions and cope with his depression, stating that his art serves as a form of therapy for him. But it's not just artists like Tim Burton who can benefit from engaging with art. Anyone can benefit from exploring artistic pursuits, whether it's through creating their own art or experiencing art in a museum or exhibition:

1. Art as a non-verbal creative outlet

For many individuals, it can be challenging to put difficult or painful experiences into words. Processing difficult emotions can become particularly challenging if there is an underlying condition that prevents processing words, such as dyslexia. Tim Burton himself was dyslexic and turned to art to help process and embody his experiences with alienation and loneliness. 

Art can provide a non-verbal creative outlet that allows individuals to express themselves in a way that feels safe and healing. Through art, individuals can explore their feelings and emotions, release pent-up tension and anger, and work through their experiences in a way that is tangible and concrete. The creative process can be a powerful tool for healing, allowing individuals to connect with their inner selves and access parts of their experiences that may have been buried or repressed. By engaging in art, individuals can gain a new perspective on their trauma and begin to process and heal in a way that feels authentic and empowering.
Tim Burton working on Frankenweenie. Photo credit: Allstar/Disney

2. Improving mental health by reducing stress

Art has been shown to be an effective tool in reducing stress and promoting mental health. Creating or engaging with art can help individuals to relax, unwind and focus on the present moment. It allows individuals to express themselves in a way that feels safe and non-judgmental, which can be especially beneficial for those who struggle with anxiety or other mental health conditions. 

Art therapy can provide individuals with a safe and supportive environment to explore their feelings and emotions through the creative process. According to the American Art Therapy Association, engaging in activities such as coloring or painting significantly reduces cortisol levels in the body, thereby alleviating stress. By exploring creative expression, individuals can shift their focus from stressful thoughts to the process of crafting, which can help to reduce feelings of anxiety and promote a sense of calmness. 
Wednesday playing the cello to de-stress and relax. Photo credit: Netflix, Wednesday

3. Enhancing cognitive functions and focus

Engaging in art requires the brain to engage in a variety of cognitive processes, such as problem-solving, spatial reasoning, and fine motor control. Through the process of creating and exploring, individuals can exercise their cognitive abilities and improve their brain function. Additionally, art can provide a form of mindfulness practice, which can improve focus and concentration. 

The act of creating art requires individuals to be fully present and focused on the task at hand, which can be a form of meditation. In 2018, researchers found that engaging in artistic endeavors such as viewing art pieces and listening to music improved memory, attention, and processing speed in elderly people suffering from mild neurocognitive disorders. For example, drawing or painting can help to improve hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills, while sculpting can improve spatial reasoning and problem-solving skills. Overall, engaging in art can be a beneficial way to enhance cognitive function and improve focus.
Trick or Treat by Tim Burton. Photo credit: Museum of Modern Art, New York

4. Encouraging social connections and friendships

Whether it's attending art events, participating in art classes or workshops, or collaborating on art projects, art can bring people together and foster a sense of community. Engaging in creative activities with others can provide a shared experience that can help to break down barriers, create connections, and overcome loneliness. 

Additionally, art can provide a safe and supportive space for individuals to express themselves, which can help to build trust and understanding. The process of creating and understanding art can also help individuals to connect with people who share similar interests and values, which can lead to long-lasting friendships. Art communities and groups exist around the world, allowing individuals to connect with people from all walks of life and form meaningful relationships. Overall, art can be a powerful tool for fostering social connections and building relationships that last a lifetime, enhancing overall wellness.
Johnny Depp (left in both photos) and Tim Burton (right in both photos) from their youth (left photo) and today (right photo). Photo credit: Lane Vasquez, The Things

So, if you're looking for a fun and creative way to improve your overall health and well-being, art is one of the underrated pathways. Whether you're an experienced artist or a beginner, there are endless possibilities to explore through different mediums like painting, drawing, sculpting, or you could visit an exhibition or a museum to get inspired. Not only does art provide a wonderful outlet for self-expression, but it can also help you connect with others and build new relationships. So why not give it a go? You may be surprised at the positive impact it can have on your mental and physical health.

Breaking the Boundaries at Onecare

It is without a doubt that artistic expression is an essential aspect of achieving optimal wellness. Therefore, it is with overwhelming pleasure and honor for us to announce that Onecare is the main sponsor for the current exhibition of “The World of Tim Burton” happening at Pavilion, Bukit Jalil! 

Event Details:
Title of the Show: The World of Tim Burton
Duration: March 21, 2023 - July 30, 2023
Time: 10:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Venue: Level 2, Lot 2.93.00, Pink Zone, Pavilion Mall, Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur.
Models of Tim Burton’s characters at The World of Tim Burton Exhibition at Pavilion, Bukit Jalil. Photo credit: CCN


Kaimal, G., Ray, K., & Muniz, J. (2016). Reduction of Cortisol Levels and Participants' Responses Following Art Making. Art therapy : Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, 33(2), 74–80.

Mahendran, R. et al. (2018). Art therapy is associated with sustained improvement in cognitive function in the elderly with mild neurocognitive disorder: Findings from a pilot randomized controlled trial for art therapy and music reminiscence activity versus usual care. Trials, 19(1).  

By Zoe W.

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