Why a short trip to a museum or concert can be so good for your mental health

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“We all need connection,” Trujillo tells SELF. “The arts and expression are things that can help people of any age, like outdoor spaces and physical exercise.”

There is usually something for everyone.

Some people prefer to enjoy the arts alone — say, wandering around the museum alone — while others want to participate with a friend or connect with new people, says Golden, who notes that arts in prescription programs often offer tickets to friends or family. to go with you. “Sometimes loneliness can be a matter of not feeling part of a bigger thing, and being able to participate in a bigger thing – even if you’re not going to talk to someone while you’re there – is part of what makes you feel. feel connected and belong,” she says. For people looking for more direct conversations or connections, an ongoing art class might be a better option, she says.

It’s not about forcing yourself to go to the opera when an aria just gives you a headache (or puts you to sleep). To get the most benefit from your experiences, it’s important to choose something that speaks to you personally, says Golden. (Although some arts in prescription programs have more options than others, she says.) This could be listening to a band, going to the theater, or playing an instrument.

“It’s like people say the best workout is the one you will do,” she says. “Sing in a choir, join a music class, take a few lessons – whatever it is.”

Eugénie Fontugne, a student at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, chose activities such as dance performances and concerts at her university arts prescription program. “It’s definitely a good tool to disconnect and take your mind off day-to-day life, homework, finding a job — all those kinds of things,” she tells SELF.

However, if you’re having trouble finding the energy to do anything, it’s okay to start slowly. “When people are depressed, you often don’t know what you want to do—nothing is really very interesting,” says Golden. She recommends taking the smallest steps if that’s all you can do. “I can turn on some music and see how it goes. I can get up and move my body like I’m dancing and see if I feel a little better,” she says.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money to reap the benefits.

If you don’t have access to a prescription arts program – there are only a few across the country, like the one at Stanford University, and one program directed by the Mass Cultural Council– there are other ways to get health benefits that don’t require a lot of money.

“The program at Stanford is amazing, but many other places are also trying to democratize art,” says Fontugne. “Most museums are free for at least one day a month, which also creates more desire to go.”

You also don’t need to live in a big city to find ways to interact. “If you live in an urban area that has symphonies, operas and concert halls, that’s amazing,” says Hundley. “But in [other] areas, non-traditional art spaces, libraries and community centers are great. Most communities across the country have something going on, even if they’re not in downtown San Francisco, where [people] I can enter the modern art museum.”

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