19 Mar Boost your health with creative endeavours
We are born with the desire to express ourselves and art and other forms of creative expression such as dance, writing, photography, playing an instrument, theatre arts, sculpture and painting, enable us to do just this. Self expression nourishes our souls, but did you know that creative pursuits are also associated with increased happiness and some remarkable health benefits?
Leonardo da Vinci proclaimed that “Painting embraces all the ten functions of the eye; that is to say, darkness, light, body and color, shape and location, distance and closeness, motion and rest.”
Drawing, painting and writing, are all known to help people overcome trauma and negative emotions. One recent study found that when people write about positive experiences they’ve enjoyed, they benefit from an increased sense of psychological well-being. Painting on the other hand, trains one to concentrate on details and pay more attention to their environments – much like meditation. Creating art increases the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine which in turn boosts drive, focus and concentration while also increasing psychological and emotional resilience.
Another study concluded that when older adults participate in theatre arts, they benefit from improved cognitive function and psychological well-being after just four weeks. In fact, whenever we engage in new or complex activities, our brains create new connections between brain cells. This function (often called neuroplasticity) occurs throughout our lifespans and is a proven benefit of creating art since participation promotes communication between parts of the brain.
“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” — Albert Einstein
Some studies indicate that creative writing and other pursuits also boost our immune systems and help manage chronic pain. More active creative pursuits like dance, promote increased mobility and fitness, and have a positive impact on how we feel about our bodies.
Millions of people deal with chronic health conditions and the stress, anxiety, and depression that often accompany them. In The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health: A Review of Current Literature, researchers analyzed the findings of over 100 studies on the benefits of art on physical and psychological health. They noted that music and visual arts benefited patients by:
- Encouraging them to put aside sickness temporarily, and to focus on positive life experiences.
- Helping them retain a sense of self instead of allowing illness to define them.
- Fostering a sense of achievement.
- Helping them express their feelings.
- Reducing stress.
Happily, one need not have any particular artistic skills to get started and to reap the benefits of creative endeavours. Take an art class, grab your camera and take some photos, join a creative dance class, buy a canvas and some paints, take up an instrument, put on some music and dance, put pen to paper and write a poem or short story. I enjoy creative writing, dance, and painting as you can see from the images shared in this post.