We’ve all spent a year being wary (and aware) of everything from climate change and the nature of pandemics to our own diet and exercise. Many have been taking to their screens to find a yoga class. Lots have been working hard in their kitchens and discovering a love of cooking. But what about the long-term? What makes a lasting difference?
Effects of lockdown
Although individual stories will be very different, few will say they have not been affected by this long period of social distancing. The ‘Zoom fatigue’ of working from home is an unwelcome by-product when people really want personal contact. Being unable to socialise in the traditional way is having a big impact, especially on the young. Group activity is a lifeline for both young and old and a highlight of the week. That much needed release is currently not available to any of us for a while.
The arts and health
As we emerge into our ‘new normal’ what have we learnt that will strengthen our recovery? While medical resources will continue to be stretched to their limit we need to find ways to improve health and strength in mind and body. Some GP surgeries are already practicing social prescribing as a solution. There has been a deal of research into the effectiveness of the arts and creativity as a tool for medicine. It can support social cohesion and health over the long-term.
“The creative arts and humanities are one of the best ways to enhance public health and social connectedness.”
In the past year we saw the effects first-hand during our Moving Together project. With Dr. Bronwyn Tarr, an anthropologist at the University of Oxford, we explored loneliness and its opposite, talking with sufferers about how it felt. Dr. Tarr is also a dancer and a firm believer that dance as a social activity is a way for people to feel connected. The project, which featured several Zoom dance tutorial workshops and a mass online flashmob, had a positive effect on the mental and physical health of the participants and even the artists involved.
“it must be about a year since Zoom classes began …. it’s been amazing and a lifeline. The loneliness project was such a success and so much fun to be part of, a real privilege. I can’t thank you enough… my mind and body would have gone into decline without you! Hurrah and hugs.”
How to have a healthy month
So what does this mean for you and me? Perhaps thinking creatively about mental and physical health is the way forward. Is there something you’ve always wanted to try? Go back to piano lessons or drawing. Take part in a singing group or maybe a dance class with us. Chances are you’ll feel a whole lot better if you do.