It’s Blue Monday – but creativity and culture give us reasons to feel optimistic

Research shows that engagement with the arts can improve mental health, and provide opportunities to boost social connections and prevent isolation, writes Darren Henley

Monday 17 January 2022 11:39
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<p>Being creative ourselves and connecting with the work of creative professionals helps us to lead happier, healthier lives</p>

Being creative ourselves and connecting with the work of creative professionals helps us to lead happier, healthier lives

Today is Blue Monday, the third Monday in January, believed by many to be the saddest day of the year. Christmas is now a distant memory. The nights are long and dark. The temperature outside is decidedly chilly. The daffodils and snowdrops have yet to herald springtime. And this year, more of us than usual might be feeling blue with the added impact of pandemic-induced isolation and worries over what the next year might hold.

That’s why we have chosen today to share new Arts Council England-funded research from University College London. It offers us a reason to feel optimistic despite all the gloom, highlighting how the work of this country’s brilliant creative artists and cultural organisations are bringing warmth and light to cold days and dark nights.

The research shows how access to cultural activities is helping us to cope during the pandemic. Key workers, people with long-term conditions, mental health conditions and older adults all say that art gives them a much-needed distraction and a chance to connect with themselves emotionally, to engage creatively and to join with others.

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