It seems too simple! Doing art can improve my health? That's it? Just do an art? The short answer is ABSOLUTELY.
Science has been working hard to explain nearly everything on the planet and art is no exception. There numerous studies now showing that having a visual arts (Painting, Drawing, Pottery, Photography, Textiles) practice will help SUPERCHARGE your health and mental well-being.
Below, we've compiled a list of important benefits that are often overlooked! For centuries we've known the benefits and science currently proving that art can:
- Reduce chances of depression.
- Improved mood sense of accomplishment.
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Is a form of meditation and can induce "flow" states.
- Allows people to see the world through your eyes.
- Help improve engagement with the world.
- Improve your immune system and blood pressure.
Art is an anti-depressant!!
Visual art hobbies reduce chances of depression, improve your mood, and boost your sense of accomplishment. Painting, Drawing, and other visual arts can all help to reduce your depression!!
This may challenge the cliché of the depressed artist, but science has shown that it reduces your chances of becoming depressed. When you're engaged in some form of art, your working with a different part of your brain. Sure, the logic is still there. You have to examine your art critically in order to improve, but your right brain is also highly engaged!! You're working on the creative side of your brain and the logic is a bit more on "standby".
This can work wonders for the overthinking depressed mind. As you practice and you notice the improvement, your mind is automatically rewarded with the knowledge that you've expanded a skill. When your skill level has increased, followed by that warm feeling of accomplishment, you just FEEL good. It can make your day feel so magical to "impress" yourself with your Art and then to share it with the people you love.
Art can relieve/reduce stress and anxiety!
Stress and Anxiety are misery makers and can even be silent killers. That may seem like a bold statement, but in reality, it's a real problem with MOST of the people you see in everyday life. Stress is a leading factor in health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, anxiety, and depression. Anxiety alone can eat a person alive with a list of fears, regrets, social problems, and more. Studies have shown (American Journal of Public Health, 2010) that art has the ability to calm the stress of cancer patients and help relieve the anxiety associated with facing mortality. If it can help people in such a serious and challenging spot in life, imagine what it could do for you!! Integrate art into your life to enjoy the benefits of having a symbolic outlet for your feelings.
It's "meditative" and can lead to "flow states"
While it may be a bit "woo woo", there is a meditative effect that art has when you allow yourself to be absorbed in a project/practice. In his book "Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience", Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi explains a state that most artists are very familiar with. It's a difficult experience to explain to someone and it took him an entire book to describe it. To sum it up, it's a state you enter when you’re completely engrossed in a focused task. Time doesn't pass in the same way (as a matter of fact, you forget about time!), your surroundings blur and a "hyperfocus" state of mind are entered almost unknowingly. It's a surreal moment that MOST people have experience while doing some sort of project. Art is a terrific way to trigger that flow state on command and unburden your mind. Check out the Wikipedia page on flow here to learn more about this incredible phenomenon.
It helps you engage with the world!
Someone who has studied art extensively will tell you that they had to learn to "see" things the way they really are! That's strange to think about for most people that haven't focused on improving their art, but it's taught in Art 101. Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain, by Betty Edwards, is required reading for anyone seeking to improve their art. The premise of the book is to teach you to see things the way they actually are!! Our mind does an incredible job of symbolizing things. It's one of the things the computer we call our brains does best!! It actually does it a little too well. We create symbols for everything and are most often not even aware of it.
Most people that haven't studied art would likely try to do a self-portrait and notice that everything they drew was flat. And a "symbol" of what they think an eye is. They didn't draw what they literally saw, they drew what their mind told them an eye looks like!! It's mind-boggling to think about, but our mind literally "tricks" us at all times of the day. When you study art, though, it begins to change the way you look at the entire world. You notice the contrast between lights and shadows more, you see eyes, noses, in all their unique details. You notice that the shadows actually have color and are never black. Things that seemed mundane radiate life when you sit down, focus on it for an hour and draw a still life of it.
Things become more interesting and you find so much more beauty in things all throughout the day!
It allows you to share the world the way YOU see it!
Art is a way to let people see through the lens of your spirit. People LOVE to view the world through different eyes. To see a different perspective, if only for a moment. Movies, Video Games, Graphic Arts, are ALL popular for this very reason! Whether it be an epic painting, a quick sketch, or chalk on the sidewalk, it allows you to express yourself in a truly unique way. Art empowers you to show people what you're seeing. Think about how it "feels" to see through Monet's cataract eyes or Van Gouge's frightening psyche. Sharing the way you see things can have tremendous benefits for not only you but the people you share it with and humanity as a whole.
It can reduce your blood pressure and boost your immune system!
For many of the reasons listed above, art can even reduce hypertension and help protect your body from sickness. The mentally calming effect art has will reduce the anxiety/stress in your system. Both of which also affect blood pressure and immune health. Take a moment, put something "out" instead of taking things "in" and it will infuse you with vitality. In an American Journal of Public Health review titled, The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health (Link here) it was stated that "There are clear indications that artistic engagement has significantly positive effects on health".
The list goes on! Science is studying it, but it's been common knowledge for centuries. Art is a positive way to express yourself, create, and spread joy. All of which are essential to the human experience. It's the foundation of our cause and what inspired our want to bring beginner level art projects to the masses. The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single footstep and we hope to be that first footstep.