You don’t have to be Picasso or Van Gogh to enjoy the process of creating art. Picking up a paintbrush, pencil, pen or watercolor set isn’t reserved for the elite, and there are no boundaries in the art world as to who can create art.
Self-expression is an important part of human nature, and it’s a base human desire that everyone experiences in their life. You don’t have to be in art school, or create marble sculptures or encompass a natural-born knack for creating realistic paintings; whatever you create is an extension of you, and it is beautiful in that regard.
Art and creative expression is a powerful tool that can be used to benefit both your mental health and your physical health.
Living a lifestyle that is conducive to stress and anxiety can take a toll on one’s mental and physical health over time, and releasing pent up tension through the act of art is a great solution. Painting, drawing, clay sculpting and photography are some examples of activities that can help lower your stress levels. Creating art requires concentration and focus on the task at hand, and you can find yourself absorbed in the process, providing a distraction for your brain from the overwhelming thoughts and to-do lists that usually preoccupy the modern, busy mind.
Regularly creating art is a great way to consistently lower stress levels, which can lead to overall mental and physical health improvements.
Boosts Problem Solving & Memory
According to this study that studied the impact on fifth grade students’ problem solving skills in relation to art, “students demonstrated that they are more likely to be intentional in their decision making, follow through on tasks, be deliberate in their approaches, approach accidents and difficulties with patience.”
Art can also be beneficial for aging brains, and creating art requires practicing visualization and memory, making drawing and painting perfect activities to combat the development of memory disorders in old age. Mental decline is partly due to the loss of communication between brain cells rather than the death of brain cells, and practicing art can contribute to brain stimulation as well as the growth of new neurons.
Creative Thinking Increases
Practicing and learning an art can help foster creativity, and can help engage your brain as a whole. Creative ability isn’t limited just to art, but practicing creative skills and engaging with the imagination can be directly related to creating art. There is no correct answer to art, and the process of creating and creative thinking allows you to come up with unique ideas and solutions in the moment, and that thinking can translate over to your everyday life, infusing creativity into your latest project at work, or your homework assignment for school.
Creativity is all about exploring, imagining and discovering, which makes art a perfect catalyst for increasing creative thinking and expression.
Encourages Positive Self-Esteem
Positive accomplishment, such as sewing, drawing or painting, photography or gardening (to name a few) can release the neurotransmitter dopamine into your system, which not only stimulates the creation of new neurons that can help keep the brain active, but can also combat depression and increase self-esteem.
The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America reports that one study “found that the women with MS who participated in a creative art program experienced significant increases in self-esteem, social support, and self-efficacy to function with MS,”.
This study entitled “The Connection Between Art, Healing and Public Health” also states that participating in the creation of art “Improved well-being by decreasing negative emotions and increasing positive ones,”.
Improves Quality of Life
Art is a great tool for dementia patients as it encourages functioning of the whole brain, and can improve social behavior, self-esteem, and reduces other unpleasant symptoms experienced by those suffering from dementia, like agitation, depression, and insomnia.
According to this study, “Art can be a refuge from the intense emotions associated with illness. There are no limits to the imagination in finding creative ways of expressing grief.”
The report details a group of women with cancer who experienced cancer-related issues with pain, insomnia, self-confidence and activity restriction, and found that creating visual art, through collage, pottery, and watercolor to name a few, found that it helped them focus on positive life experiences, enhanced their self-worth, and allowed them to express their feelings, especially when they were undergoing chemotherapy.
The report also goes on to say, “There is also evidence that use of art and music reduces hospital stays, with studies showing earlier discharges among patients taking part in sivual and performing arts interventions than among those not doing so.”
The Multiple Sclerosis Associate of America also reports that a study conducted in Ireland based around MS patients who participated in creative art classes “experienced deep immersion in their artwork, offering respite from worry about their illness.”
View It, Too
Creating art isn’t the only way to receive the benefits. Viewing art can also improve your mental and physical wellness.
According to Ashford University, “The more time you spend analyzing a piece of art, the more you are able to stimulate both unconscious and conscious brain functions. Doing so can increase your analytics and problem-solving skills in everyday life.”
Not only does viewing art positively impact your brain, but physically going to the places where art is displayed gets you out of the house, and encourages interaction with others around you. A local art museum, gallery, or farmers market or art fair are great places to view art, and connect with those around you.
Crystal has been coming to AFTS Open Studio for more than 5 years and tries to attend once a week “so that I feel like I’m doing something - life’s not just passing me by. I have something to look forward to.”
“Life can draw you away from your real talent, and AFTS helped me rediscover an old talent. [AFTS] gave me the opportunity to rekindle that talent.”
During these times of lock down, social distancing and increasingly less human connection, we are determined to bring our artists and others experiencing homelessness an opportunity for self-expression and creative relief to combat the increasing risk of depression and isolation.