Art does more than help people create. It actually makes them healthier. In a number of studies on how creating art improves personal health, the evidence is clear and so are the benefits.
It Keeps Your Mind Sharp
People’s minds lean toward deterioration and a lack of cognition skills as they age, most notably memory and focus. Harvard published the results of a study on geriatric patients with dementia creating art. The results show that these patients, regardless of ability to make art, improved their cognition and memory functioning to the point where they could talk and relay memories they had long forgotten.
Many artists who work as artists report that their ability to focus is very much improved during and after they have made some of their art. The act of creating something involves multiple parts of the human brain that are responsible for problem solving, visual spacing and recognition, color theory and application, etc.. With all of these different areas of the brain waking up to make art, it’s no wonder that art helps patients with dementia restore some cognitive function, even if it’s temporary.
Art Not Only Reduces Stress, but Also Stress Hormones
The body produces a number of stress hormones. The hormones are in response to situations where someone is afraid, overwhelmed, or unwilling to say no to a request when they have already said yes. The hormones cause you to become angry, frustrated, and sometimes aggressive. Thus, the “fight or flight” response is activated, and people strive against those impulses to complete the tasks requested.
However, one study shows that engaging in the act of creating art daily not only reduces stress, but also reduces the production of stress hormones. It’s in the meditative feeling people get while creating that they are able to slip away from what is causing the stress, and find a sense of relief. When people are calmly engaging in creating art, their bodies revert to a moment when the stress hormones were not needed for a “flight or fight” response. It is similar in nature to thirty minutes to an hour of quiet meditation practice, although many find that creating art is more enjoyable than meditation.