Health and wellness is not all genetic predispositions. We know the brain’s structure strengthens every time it is engaged in a significant way. We’ve reviewed many resources in our Vitality section that address achieving a balance of both physical health and emotional well-being. This mind-body link or mind-powered focus can drive neurogenesis and improve cognitive fitness.

The traditional healing arts recognize there are many other therapies with a place in the healing pantheon such as exploring, developing, and practicing creativity as a means to wellness. The arts in healthcare is a rapidly growing field that provides clinical benefits from reductions in psychological and physiological stress to increased self-esteem. Integration of literary, performing, visual arts and design can have a beneficial effect on overall health.

Engaging in an art form can provide the strength needed to cope with grief. Well Arts Institute promotes the art of well-being through the power of storytelling. Well Arts began as part of the Artists’ Repertory Theatre’s community/education project in Portland, Oregon with cancer patients telling their stories through creative writing projects. Professional actors performed those stories for the public. Then the non-profit Well Arts Institute was formed as an arts-in-healthcare organization offering creative writing workshops, art, music and theater to help writers, families, caregivers, and communities move toward wellness, hope and meaning  during life-altering health situations.

Another important resource we’ve found is Cancer Really Sucks, a non-profit in Iowa by teens for teenagers (13-17) who have loved ones facing cancer. We know cancer affects the whole family, not just the person with the disease, and through this website, teens can tell their story on line with other teens facing the same emotional issues. Mentor-teens offer advice, support and encouragement based on their own current or past experiences. Live story-telling with professionals and mentor-teens through chat rooms is set up at designated times. Professionals offer suggestions for coping in a positive way. Teens are at a time in their lives when they are trying to break away and be independent from their parents. When a parent has cancer, breaking away can be hard for them.

We need more resources like these nationwide and if you found any you think we should hear about, please let us know.