Stress is a natural part of life for everyone and, while very small levels can sometimes boost productivity, too much can have serious implications on our mental health. This International Stress Awareness Week, artist Rich Simmons speaks about his experience and why art is the cure for him.
Throughout my life I’ve always been creative. From making crayon masterpieces for my grandad as a child, to creating the biggest mural of my life. Little did I know, art would soon become my saviour.
At a time when I was younger, I wasn’t communicating verbally, I was locking myself away and I wasn’t processing things happening in my life. My dad encouraged me to visit a therapist and they said I had all the hallmarks of Asperger syndrome. As much as I didn’t want the label of having depression, autism and social anxiety, it was a realisation that I am me. And it was then I decided to take my brain and do something positive in the world with it.
I began communicating the darkness in my mind into art. It was like taking my demons and trapping them into a canvas, so they were no longer inside me. It wasn’t until my early 20s that I realised what I had been doing was art therapy all along. And it saved my life. It was then I knew art was my cure and I wanted to show the world the benefits of creativity.
Now, art is my profession. I love it, but with any profession comes stress. There are deadlines and there are worries about income. The pandemic has led to many opportunities, such as exhibitions, slipping through my fingers. It’s been really stressful for everyone. Thankfully, art is like water, it can take all kinds of forms. There is no limitation to creativity. If I’m stressed or ever struggling, I have my drum kit, I have my guitar, I have experimenting with cooking. And the best thing? It’s not my profession so it doesn’t have to be any good! They are all forms of escaping and expressing myself, and it’s so important to have that.
If anyone is finding themselves feeling stressed or down in any way, embrace your creative side. As I said, it doesn’t have to be good, it just needs to be you. Art, in any form, can help us express ourselves. If not, make sure you find a way to get everything negative out of your system by speaking to a professional or someone you trust.
Never bottle things up.
Find out more about why Art is the Cure for me.