Cultural Variety and Healing Power

The sun is shining, birds are singing, trees are budding, and warmer days are just around the corner. Breaking out of our indoor cocoons, we tend to get a bit of spring in our step as a healthy dose of daylight drives the winter blues away.

In fact, seasonal mood variations are believed to be related to the amount of light our bodies receive. In this sense, the longer days of summer can be seen as a healing environment of sorts.

A rejuvenating trip to the spa can provide a healing environment, as can your backyard garden. There is inherent healing power in plants, flowers, trees and fresh air. A simple stroll through a garden can help lower stress and alleviate your pain—just ask the Peoria Garden Club, whose biennial Garden Walk takes place during National Garden Week this June. In this issue, we preview the club’s walking tour of five gorgeous Peoria gardens.

The notion of creating a healing environment is one of the significant trends in designing healthcare facilities, one which we see fully expressed in the new expansion project at Methodist Medical Center. The hospital’s integration of local artwork into the very design of its new entryway and lobby area is an expression of the power of art to promote physical, emotional and spiritual healing in what can be a very stressful environment.

Likewise, art is used in the professional therapy environment for the same purpose. For many of us, this is a no-brainer. Why do people create art in the first place, if not to express their feelings, cope with stress and enjoy the “life-affirming pleasures” of creation? Whether music, painting, sculpture or otherwise, art is therapeutic by its very nature.

Opening yourself up to new cultural experiences can also be an important aspect of one’s personal development. While there’s nothing wrong with “meat and potatoes,” it can be rewarding to break out of your “comfort food” zone and taste something new. So if you’ve never savored a small plate of Spanish tapas or tried a cup of bubble tea, now is your chance.

The opening of Noir on Prospect in May brings the popular tapas concept to the Heights, while curiosiTea reopens its doors to entice inquisitive customers at the Shoppes at Grand Prairie. What is served up is not your everyday comfort food for most Midwesterners, but it is a reflection of the cultural diversity—and increasingly sophisticated palates—in central Illinois.

As you will see, the concept applies to film as well. “One of the comments we consistently get…is ‘I wouldn’t necessarily have chosen to see that film if you hadn’t shown it, but I learned something and saw a new perspective,’” says Mary Beth Mahoney of Peoria’s Reel to Real Focus on Film.

Whether we’re talking food or film, variety can indeed be the spice of life. Certainly, you can’t acquire a taste for something you’ve never tried. So as you experience the therapeutic power of longer days and warmer weather, step outside of your comfort zone and try something new. It may just heal what ails you. a&s

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