Mental Health, Art, About, Interiors

Why I Use Art to Help You Live Better in a Noisy World

Quieting the Noise - The Barrage of Stimuli and Anxiety

quieting-the-noise-the-barrage-of-stimuli-and-anxiety

I’ve been a highly sensitive person since forever. Growing up in cities, the non-stop barrage of stimuli like crowds, multiple conversations and traffic would leave me feeling exhausted and agitated.

 

And then, life sped up. I remember taking 45 minutes (45 minutes!) to boot up a computer before the Internet was widely used (to the point of addiction). Now the barrage of stimuli is in our own homes too, some days it feels like there is no ‘off’ switch. Fast forward to post graduation. I was spending 3 hours commuting on a good day, barely eating. What little sleep I managed to get was troubled, plagued by the anxiety of, ironically, not getting enough sleep.

 

Then everything changed.
 

I had a concussion. And my sensitivity to stimuli skyrocketed. Author Alison Bonds Shapiro puts it best like this:

The second source of anxiety is over-stimulation. While anyone can become over-stimulated without being ill or injured, brain injury in particular highlights this anxiety response clearly. Our brains filter stimuli, focusing our awareness. When a person experiences a brain injury he may feel as if his ability to filter stimuli has gone haywire — as if he is in unmanageable contact with every source of stimulation, no matter how ordinary. Noise, music, conversation, touch, odors, sights can all feel overwhelming, and be experienced as too intense, uncontrollable and painful.
— Alison Bonds Shapiro M.B.A.

I was keenly aware of everything, and it physically hurt my brain and caused overwhelming fatigue. Something as simple as letters on a page bothered me, it was too dense, too ‘busy-looking.’ It simply required too much of me.

 

But colour? Soothing colour had the opposite effect. Usually when I got seriously bored of lying in a darkened room with no stimuli (including audiobooks), I would paint in 15-30 minute intervals. Being immersed in colour, I found just the right amount of stimuli to help me cope during the recovery process.

Why I-Use-Art-to-Help-You-Live-Better-in-a-Loud-World

One of the many gifts from this life changing event was learning how easy it is to burnout, how long the recovery process is, and how sometimes, you couldn’t quite take back the same level of healthiness prior to an injury.

 

But being more sensitive to stimuli didn’t mean I was cut off from everything interesting forever. I learned how much the atmosphere of a room can really affect a person’s mood, and even physical wellbeing.

 

The lessons learned can take up another blog post, but the main thing is, I realized I could create beautiful, tactile art to lift the energy in a room, diffuse stresses away, or set the tone for an atmosphere of quiet and relaxation. Each painting is thoughtfully created and curated with these desires in mind.