8 Ways Creating Art Benefits Your Health
Do you remember when you were a kid and making art was fun and free of judgement? You could draw and color anything and it felt good. It didn’t matter if the colors weren’t “realistic” or objects weren’t easily recognizable – explaining every aspect of the drawing to anyone who would listen was part of the fun. Why not continue making art in this way as we grow older? At a time when we have more responsibilities isn’t even more important to take care of ourselves? To create opportunities for those moments of personal joy we get from creating something from nothing?
Here is a list of 8 ways creating art benefits your health.
1. Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Creating art can be a relaxing and often meditative experience. When we engage in creating art without fear of judgement – by just focusing on the process – we are able to lower our heart rate and blood pressure which calms the body. When we are in this state of relaxed creativity, we are distracted from outside pressures or problems causing our stress. Also, when we are less stressed we are better able to objectively look at outside circumstances causes our stress and anxiety and develop coping strategies and solutions.
2. Communication without words
I’ve worked with individuals who, for various reasons, would not or could not speak. Using art as a way of communication opens up the opportunities visual conversations. Not all language is spoken and lot can be said with a drawing or photograph.
3. Improve memory
The repetitive nature knitting and weaving are a great way to help improve memory. The brain creates the pathways for the pattern and the repetition makes the memory stronger. This is one reason it can be difficult to break a habit, because our brain has practiced it so much. This is also a reason we can complete things as if on “auto pilot” – like typing or driving. We have practiced so much that we don’t need to consciously think about every step along the way. However, when someone for instance experiences a brain injury some of those automatic behaviors become difficult. Using art can help retrain the brain to be able to create those good habits again.
After a while of becoming more forgetful, I personally started knitting more complex patterns to see if I could improve my own memory. After a few months I noticed that I was no longer forgetting simple things like why I walked into the kitchen, or an appointment coming up during the week. The process helps strengthen our thinking.
4. Process grief
For a long time people have gathered to make quilts with the fabric from clothing of deceased loved ones as a way to remember them. By gathering in groups to create the quilt and talk about the person and the emotions involved, is itself a healing process.
5. Express emotions
Sometimes words are not enough to express how we are feeling. Sometimes we do not have the right words for what we are feeling. Sometimes we need a cathartic release for our emotions and art is a safe way to let it all out. Put it on paper or canvas – draw it out – rip it up… The art will not judge you or correct you or tell you you’re wrong – there is no right or wrong way to create.
6. Improve fine motor skills
Manipulating string when weaving, or using scissors to cut around a complex magazine image are great ways to improve fine motor skills. And because the process is enjoyable it doesn’t feel like work or therapy.
7. Improve self-esteem and confidence
I’ve worked with many kids and adults who say “I’m not an artist” or “I can’t draw” before they even start! There are plenty of techniques and design elements that you can learn to help improve your artwork, and that is a part of art education, which anyone can learn. However, when it comes to creating art for self expression and self-care it is all about your personal expression and there is no right or wrong way.
Creating art can bring you joy if you let it. Just think about kids scribbling with sidewalk chalk in the summer. It’s fun! Express yourself.
How does art help you? I would love to hear from you – tell me in the comments how you have experienced the health benefits of art.