5 Health Benefits of Art

The profound effects of art on the mind and body

We often wonder what purpose art serves. Why would anyone want to spend their hard-earned money at a museum or a concern? There must be some reason why we’ve evolved to appreciate art. Multiple studies have shown that actively being creative has a number of health benefits and overall improves people’s quality of life. In fact, evidence suggests that the strongest communities are ones that support their local artists. Engaging in art, whether that be visual art, music, dance, or anything else, is essential to our well-being. Here are five positive impacts art has on our everyday lives:

1. Stress Relief

Every day stress is normal, but it’s important to take a break now and then to prevent a busy schedule from turning into chronic stress which can have a negative impact on your health. A great way to break up your routine is to incorporate some kind of art into your day. Studies have shown that even a short, ten minute break once a day can reduce your overall stress level. Being constantly bombarded with information can wear on your mental and physical health. Instead, dedicate a few minutes to creating something.

2. Improve Cognitive Function/Prevent Alzheimer’s

Brain science has improved exponentially in the last few decades. One fascinating new discovery was the concept of neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to re-shape itself and form new neuron connections as we absorb new information. One of the best ways to increase neuroplasticity is to think creatively, and what better way to do that than practise an instrument, paint a picture, or learn a new dance move. Neuroplasticity has been shown to actively prevent the degeneration of brain cells that lead to Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other cognitive diseases. It may also be possible that creative thinking and art therapy can reverse the behaviours of PTSD and bipolar patients.

3. Boost Your Mood

We all feel a sense of pride from creating something that is our own. The act of producing art releases feel-good chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin. Many mental illnesses involve an irregular amount of these essential brain chemicals, resulting in things like depression or anxiety. Art therapy has shown remarkable results in improving mood and behaviour. For example, this study showed that art therapy was effective at decreasing depressive symptoms in prison inmates compared to other types of conventional therapy.

4. Physical Rehabilitation

Many professionals are starting to see the benefits of art in the medical field. Whereas before, art was seen as an alternative medicine, now people are realizing the real, scientific evidence behind it and why it works. Overall, when art is added into rehabilitation programs for injuries, addiction, and physical recovery, doctors report widespread reductions in a broad range of symptoms including pain, anxiety, and discomfort.

5. Enhance Cancer Treatment

A study on mindfulness based art therapy showed significantly reduced distress and better vital signs in cancer patients. Other studies show similar results, with reduced depression and fatigue in cancer patients during chemotherapy. Most of us are familiar with the devastating effects of cancer and the crippling treatments used to fight it. Art therapy, especially in groups, can have a huge impact on a patient’s quality of life, and that can make a big difference in treatment.