Art is Life and Life is Art – According to Science It’s True!

art therapy

Engagement with the creative arts is gaining traction as a form of holistic healing, as an array of healthy outcomes can result from art therapy. Some people simply feel more alive, whole and fulfilled through art whether they produce it or simply observe it. In “Awakening Your Spiritual Self Through Art,” we learned more about quieting the mind and finding your path to artistic expression whether it be through painting, dancing, music, writing, or acting. Now, let’s explore some of the scientifically supported physical, emotional and spiritual healing benefits of art therapy.

art therapy

Art Alleviates Anxiety

Stress and stress related conditions are a leading cause of death, and if something as simple as flexing your creative juices can extend your life—why not pick up an artistic hobby to help you ‘kill’ some ‘living’ time? After all, it’s estimated that most people have over 60,000 thoughts per day, and 95% of them are the SAME from day to day. Those repeating thoughts are typically stressors like bills, school, family, etc. leaving very little time for decompressing.

Much like meditation or even just zoning out, the creation of art can give one time to break free from those stressful thoughts, giving the brain a much needed respite. Science evidences that through fostering another’s artistic efforts or participating in them can actually enhance one’s emotions, mood and other psychological states that can have a salient effect on essential physiological parameters. [1]

art therapy

Art Boosts Brain Power

The Journal of Frontiers in Human Neuroscience published a fantastic study indicating that individuals who learned how to play at least one musical instrument during childhood appear to experience markedly less brain function decline as they aged. If this isn’t a prime reason to keep arts in the schools, what is?

Regardless of the art form, the brain and body are working in unison to make that magic happen, and it’s no secret that keeping the mind sharp is a key factor in slowing and preventing dementia later in life. Even though brain decline to some degree is likely with aging, many patients with memory conditions are asked to paint and draw to promote memory recall, as the mind sharpens through using the imagination.

Mental and Physical Benefits of Artistic Expression

For the past ten years, many health professionals and psychologists have been studying and documenting the many ways that the arts can be utilized to heal emotional wounds, alter behaviors and thinking patterns, and help one develop a greater capacity for self-reflection. [2] Opening up to different forms of artistic expression gives one a way to connect with themselves on a much deeper intrinsic level, allowing them to heal past unresolved issues and truly HEAL.

art therapy

Physically, it has been evidenced in a study by Berkeley University that when art creates a feeling of awe, cytokines are reduced. The presence of cytokines are essential in healing serious issues like infection and disease in addition to lowering depression levels. More obvious physical benefits will depend on the artistic endeavors undertaken, as some will improve strength, dexterity, flexibility, visual acumen and much more.

Essentially, art is one of the most natural ways to help you live a longer and happier life, so that’s reason enough to get awe-inspired and start your journey to wellness by enjoying the vast benefits of art therapy.

Offline Sources:

[1] Staricoff R, Loppert S. Integrating the arts into health care: Can we affect clinical outcomes?: Kirklin D, Richardson R, editors. The Healing Environment Without and Within London, England: Royal College of Physicians; 2003:63–80

[2] Camic PM. Playing in the mud: health psychology, the arts and creative approaches to health care. J Health Psychol 2008;13(2):287–298 [PubMed]

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