Since the dawn of time (or so it seems), our society has been health-crazed. In 2008, Gwyneth Paltrow introduced us to Goop and it seems that since then everyone and their mother has been dying to know what the latest health and wellness fad is. Even before that, society has been filling cable programs and thick, glossy magazines with exercise routines and diet plans. Working towards your best you is highly commendable; however, as we sign up for barre classes and read articles on kale-inclusive diets, do we ever stop and wonder if we’re missing something?
Something that’s been accessible all along?
Eating well and exercise are absolutely imperative to your overall well-being, as is your mental health. Art is an often overlooked entity that can benefit you mentally and emotionally. The following seven examples prove that art can be valuable to your overall state of health and wellness.
- Art Increases Brain Connectivity and Plasticity
Did you know that every time you engage in a new or complex activity, your brain creates new connections between brain cells? Brain Plasticity or neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to grow connections and change throughout your lifetime. Creating art- whether your niche is pottery or painting- interpretive dance or playing guitar, stimulates connections between various paths in the brain. Studies show that by creating these connections, your brain is increasing psychological resilience and resistance to stress!
- Art Boosts Self-Esteem
As a child, having your artwork displayed on the refrigerator door was the ultimate compliment. It gave you a sense of accomplishment and boosted your self-esteem. Today, hanging your latest piece of artwork on the wall can give you the same feeling. Creating art increases the neurotransmitter, dopamine. Excellent for motivation, dopamine boosts drive, focus, and concentration and enables you to plan ahead so you can reach your goals and resist impulses. Dopamine also stimulates the creation of new neurons and prepares your brain for learning. Crafting hobbies (photography, woodworking, knitting, DIY home repair etc.) increase dopamine, ward off depression and protect the brain from aging.
- Art Eases the Burden of Chronic Health Conditions
Millions of people worldwide are dealing with chronic health conditions, and additionally the anxiety, depression and stress that can often accompany them. Not only does art allow patients to take their mind off their illness for a while and focus on positive life experiences, art has been known to help the patients maintain the identity of who they were before their diagnosis. Art also reduced stress for patients by lowering levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.
- Creating Art Relieves Stress
Creating art provides a distraction, giving your brain a break from its usual thoughts. Activities such as drawing, sculpting, painting and photography are rewarding hobbies that lower your stress levels and keep you mentally clear and calm. The meditative-like state of mind you experience when immersed in an art project allows your mind to focus and temporarily push aside all worries. One of the most popular art trends to manage stress relief are adult coloring books.
- Art Encourages Creative Thinking
Dr. Lawrence Katz, author of “Keep Your Brain Alive: 83 Neurobic Exercises to Help Prevent Memory Loss and Increase Mental Fitness”, found that mental decline was due mainly to loss of communication between brain cells, not necessarily from the death of brain cells. There are several art benefits that can exercise your brain and keep you mentally fit. Art enhances problem-solving skills, unlike in math, there is not one correct answer in art. Creative thinking allows you to come up with unique solutions and grow new neurons in the process.
- Art Encourages Self-Awareness and Expression
Creativity is said to be the route to authenticity. As we create we reach into the depths of what we think and believe, therefore, the more we create, the more we learn about ourselves. We discover our impulses, habits and desires all through creativity. When we devote the needed time and energy to create, we find ourselves able to better express ourselves to the world on a regular basis.
- Creating Mandalas Can Minimize Symptoms of Trauma
In 2007, researchers David Rosen and Patti Henderson conducted a study dividing 36 people suffering from PTSD into two groups. One group drew mandalas for 20 minutes at a time for 3 days in a row, and those who were instructed to draw an object for the same period of time. At a one-month follow-up, the participants who had drawn the mandalas showed a decrease in symptoms of trauma, where those who had not drawn the mandalas did not. It should be noted that there are a number of other potential differences in the studied groups, however, this was the only difference that was statistically significant. Check out our mandala DIY for a relaxing and therapeutic afternoon.
Whether you’re being dragged to karaoke, enjoy knitting, or enthusiastically encouraging your friends to join you at local Paint Nites, we all have a creative side. Take the time to discover your artistic side and benefit your health and wellness, today!
Join our United Arts Campaign to help support the arts in Greater Hartford!