Saturday 28 April 2018

Weekly Discussion Summary ~ Can art offer a pathway to resilience?

This week's discussion explored our experiences of playing with our inner artist and we shared how making art and other creative projects helped us to cope with the effects of breast cancer.

Naz told us that the brain mechanisms behind creativity involve letting go, a kind of mindlessness, the brain shows. Perhaps we feel art rather than think it? Resting our brains can lead to new ideas and problems can be solved without thinking about them. Resting our brain through art engages a part of the brain called the default mode network (DMN) and this can assist us to regulate our thoughts and emotions, it can re-energise us and bring harmony to our racing and anxious thoughts. Although not fully understood, art in a therapeutic sense can bring us resilience via an increase in our ability to access our own inner strength.

Our members, who are women with both primary and secondary breast cancer diagnoses, described a myriad of different forms of creativity that they found helpful, from playing a musical instrument to painting, photography to poetry, glass-work to knitting and crochet, beading to writing plays. Many women had found writing helpful during and after treatment, as a way of dissipating uncomfortable feelings, though some had felt their creativity was paralysed.

For some, art is an escape from the everyday, and can be described as both mindful and mindless. We have a sense of losing ourselves in single-minded focus on a creative activity which frees us from our fears and anxiety. Discovering a new hobby or creative outlet can lead to increased confidence and sometimes new friends. Some picked up an old passion that they had loved when they were younger, perhaps a paintbrush or a musical instrument they used to play. For others, a journey of discovery into a new area of creativity has helped find a new pastime. Whatever direction our artistic and creative interest took us, it was clear that art offered them a sense of renewed purpose, and giving pleasure to others by sharing their creations with others was another reward.

Many use their art to help others, perhaps selling items for charity, donating them to people in need or giving them away to friends. This sharing of something handmade, unique and personal can bring huge joy to both maker and recipient. Some creative pastimes provide special alone-time, while others, like singing encourage us out into the world. Many of us had found choirs and other singing groups to be extremely helpful in providing a joyful confidence building experience.

Naz directed us to this study which provides evidence that art can increase our coping resources:…/EA9826AAA21ED90CCC2FE37043D69BE9

Undoubtedly we are a group of talented creative women! Our enthusiasm for art indicates our dedication to self-care, a big element of building resilience. Each piece of art created, whether it’s a cardigan knitted for a baby, a blog about cancer, a heartfelt poem, a music recital, a memorable painting, or perhaps a song in the shower or a nicely presented meal, holds some of the essence of the creator.

If you are a woman living in the UK with a breast cancer diagnosis and you would like to join our private group please send us a private message via our facebook page:


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