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Chances are, your textbook or lecture notes are filled with doodles, sketches and other flights of ink-filled fancy.

If so, you're not alone!

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The motivation to draw actually comes naturally to human beings. Give a toddler a crayon and he or she will naturally start to scribble!

As we grow up, this act of art-making progresses from a flurry of 'meaningless' scribbles to images and words that make order of our world.

In short, drawing and other forms of art are simply part of the human instinct to communicate and express ourselves.

In fact, the creative arts - drawing, painting, sculpture, drama, dance, music, and so on - are not only a great way to create something beautiful, they're also fantastic for relieving stress, enhancing creativity, developing problem-solving abilities, and building leadership, negotiation, and social skills!

Here are a few ways in which expressing yourself through the arts can elevate your life.

Related: Supporting Body and Mind

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1. Say It With Art

Feeling stressed? Overwhelmed and at a loss for words? Try letting it all out on a piece of paper, playing music or creating a sculpture!

Focussing on an art project has a number of benefits: chiefly, it takes your mind off your negative emotions and in addition, it allows you to express these feelings via other more productive channels.

Rather than brooding and letting stress, sadness, or anger get the better of you, transform it into something else.

Go on, hit some drums, create a collage, paint with abandon, or sing to your heart's content!

Related: Managing Negative Emotions

2. Get a Great Workout

If you think that art is a rather static and sedentary affair - think again!

The act of creating sparks off brain activity, which in turn catalyses a multitude of benefits. Most obviously, the artistic process triggers those creative juices essential to help you think beyond boundaries and gain new perspectives.

But there're also physical benefits such as improved hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.

More physically demanding forms of the art such as theatre, dance, and music also call for stamina, flexibility, and bodily awareness.

Apart from these, participating in an art form also develops mental discipline, concentration, patience, and problem-solving skills.

Related: Dance Your Way to Health

3. Art As You Like It

Who says you've got to have bucket loads of artistic talent to do anything arts-related?

The simple act of participating in an art project - however simple - can bring lots of enjoyment. And it may even uncover your hidden talent.

In any case, there're plenty of ways in which you can make art work for you. Can't find your way around a sketchpad? Try making a collage. If paints are too intimidating, how about trying your hand at photography? And if none of these tickle your fancy, think about dancing, singing, playing an instrument, or sculpting!

If participation is not your cup of tea, take part as an audience member. Wander through a museum, watch a play, or take in a symphony. Make the experience more meaningful by reflecting on what you liked best, why and how the pieces made you feel.

Related: The Draw to Exercise

4. A Circle of Friends

One of the most important - and enjoyable - aspects of taking part in anything related to the arts is the social connections you make.

Enjoying the process of art-making with others in a shared project or coming together even as you work on individual pieces engenders not only friendship, but the invaluable experience of teaching others and learning from them!

After all, art is not purely meant to be made in isolation, but shared with people!

Join an arts interest group or take part in a forum. Ask questions and seek other people's opinions and perspectives.

More than a meeting of like-minds, the act of being involved in a community of art lovers can also be a way of learning about new art forms or artists to expand your horizons and enrich your mind.

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Not sure where to find such artistic activities? You can start by surfing the NAC website, where you'll find cool and popular initiatives such as the Noise Singapore initiative.

This year-round platform showcases the creative talents of young people under 35 in art forms such as art, design, photography, and music. The recent Noise Singapore festival showcased hundreds of young people's creative works at venues like ION Orchard, the Esplanade, and Goodman Arts Centre while scores of budding artists had the rare chance to learn from established arts professionals in mentoring programmes and workshops.

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Are you more the bookworm type? Then Ceriph is for you! Refine your literary skill and find the right avenue for the words to flow. Ceriph not only offers mentorship from established writers, but hones your writing and publishes it in one of Singapore's most well-regarded journals.

Feel like bringing your friends along? Then you'll love the Originals Only Open Mike night! Take to the stage with your own musical creations, cover versions, or even poetry. This is the place to celebrate music, words, friendship, and creativity!

Are you into photography? If so, then Junior Shooting Home is the place for you! Connect with others who share the same love for photography and learn from professional photographers in this annual mentorship programme.

Remember art is simply a way of expressing yourself, so choose a form of expression that you feel comfortable with!  

This article is brought to you by Mr Kok Tse Wei, Deputy Director (Youth Arts) of the National Arts Council, whose mission is to nurture the arts and make it an integral part of the lives of the people of Singapore.


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