Art and Wellbeing


Art and Wellbeing by Dr Emma Webb

Appreciation of beauty is a part of maintaining happiness whether you find it in the arts, the natural world, human connections or other experiences. It has a positive effect on our sense of well being. Appreciation of art can enrich us through its message whether that is political, sociological or psychological or more simply via its direct emotional effect.

There is a broad spectrum of evidence to show how the arts achieve positive outcomes for patients, for staff, for the patient-staff relationship, for hospitals, mental health services and in the health of the general population.

In healthcare environments the experiences of patients and staff can be improved by artwork. Participation in the arts can be a valuable tool for improving one’s own physical, social and emotional wellbeing. Arts are now used in medical training to gain insight into patient health and to explore ethical issues as well as being used as a psychotherapeutic treatment for mental health problems.

Visiting Bristol Museum and ArtGallery recently, I was particularly drawn to the sculpture ‘A Ton of Tea’ by the Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei. It is unexpected and as well as its political symbolism, also has an amazing texture and fragrance when you get close to it.

The ‘Sands of Time’ by David Maitland is a beautifully colourful photographic depiction of the skeletal remains of sea invertebrates found in a sample of sand – fascinating, microscopic beauty.

Back at Students’ Health Service we are looking forward to enhancing our own surroundings with the addition of some artwork to our walls. I hope that it will be engaging, interesting and enjoyable for all our visitors.


You can visit;

BristolMuseum and ArtGallery – ‘No Borders’ contemporary art in a globalised world. Free exhibition until June 2013

BristolMuseum and ArtGallery – Wildlife Photographer of the Year


Self Hypnosis; what could you do?

Self-hypnosis: what is it that you want?

by Matt Edwards; Sports, Exercise and Health Dept

Imagine or remember this. Sat in the library or at a desk, reading up for next week’s essay. Get to the end of the page, and realise….you’ve not taken in a single word. In fact it’s like you’ve just woken up, drifted back to reality. Where have you been?

One way to think about this is as follows;- it happens sometimes when you’re driving (“how did I get here?!”) –  it’s a kind of light ‘trance state’, a zoning-out, where your mind and body can do quite complex things like reading or driving, but – and this is the good bit – you’re doing this stuff quite happily whilst an important part of you is thinking about something else entirely.

Sometimes called day-dreaming, it’s a natural and useful experience, even a skill, that too often we’re told not to engage in.

You can learn to deliberately use and enhance this skill through self-hypnosis. Self hypnosis is a powerful, congruent way to go into and explore these kinds of natural, resourceful states of mind. Whether for simple relaxation, or as a chance to allow your mind to examine an idea or a goal or an issue, the change in mind-body state that self-hypnosis encourages can be enormously powerful.

Imagine being able to have better control over your state of mind, to decide how confident you want to feel going into your PhD viva, as one recent student I worked with discovered for herself.

How good could that be? And what is it that you want?