Creating and interpreting art can be intimidating to the average person, but science proves you don’t to have possess artistic talent to reap the numerous health benefits art has to offer. Whether your masterpiece is worthy of hanging in a museum or on the fridge, art gives you the freedom to release your inhibitions and try something new without the fear of falling short.
Viewing and producing art can have significant positive impacts on the mind and body. From reducing stress to improving quality of life, art is a powerful health tool that is helping people of all ages worldwide.
Making and viewing art can reduce cortisone levels that contribute to stress. A 2016 study analyzed saliva samples of 39 healthy adults to test cortisol levels before and after 45 minutes of art making. The results indicated that creating art led to a significant lowering of cortisol levels. Participants also stated that they felt more relaxed and free of constraints after the art-making session and were more eager to continue producing art in the future.
If you don’t feel comfortable making art on your own, or prefer guidelines to help with creation, break out your colored pencils and try an “anti-stress” adult coloring book. Adult coloring books have become a popular trend in recent years and are proven to be therapeutic and relaxing to the mind. Similar to meditation, coloring allows you to focus on one thing at a time; this helps to alleviate anxiety.
Because art is not an exact science like math, people can learn to develop creative problem-solving skills when creating art. Even medical professionals rely on art to sharpen their minds. “Enhancing Observational Skills” is a museum-based program that is now required class for first year Yale medical students. The idea is to teach students how to observe and see clearly in order to later care for their patients in the best way possible.
Creating art can also improve self-esteem. When you finish a project, you experience a sense of accomplishment and happiness. This applies in the art arena as well. When completing a work of art, these same feelings occur and can lead to heightened dopamine levels.
Art has been proven to be a powerful therapeutic tool. Alzheimer’s and dementia patients are most commonly subjected to art therapy as a way to improve focus and communication skills that are affected by the diseases. Creating art stimulates the senses and can even assist in the recollection of seemingly dormant memories.
Art is also a popular therapy for cancer patients. In a study, children who were going through painful cancer procedures and were exposed to art therapy ultimately expressed more positive and collaborative behavior. Adults and children alike who go through traumatic experiences often internalize the pain they feel as a result. Art and art therapy allows people to express and release the experiences that are too agonizing to verbalize.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay (CC0)
Chamberlain Smith is a freelance writer based in Athens, Georgia.