For centuries, people have used art to relax, express their emotions, deal with trauma and increase their overall quality of life.
Today, thanks to extensive research, there is an abundance of scientific evidence on the positive influence of art. People tend to see art as an optional extra in our increasingly busy lives. However, the benefits suggest it should be more of an essential for everybody.
Sebastian Burdon, known as ‘Whatshisname’, is a London-based artist who aims to celebrate an alternative to the ordinary through his creative work. Here, he shares 5 ways art positively affects your mental health.
It makes you happier. Looking at art increases the blood flow to the brain. It also causes an increase in cortisol and serotonin. Apart from improving people’s mood, these hormones help treat a variety of mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. Art is equally as beneficial for regulating high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
It can help you overcome traumatic events. Art has been proven to help patients recover from personal traumas, including accidents, domestic abuse, natural disasters, etc. Through art creation, patients can depict emotions that are difficult to express verbally (sadness, rage, fear…) or portray traumatic events in a non-threatening manner.
It gives your brain a workout. The process of creating art invigorates the brain and activates the visual cortex. Making art is exercise for the brain, like running is for the body. It keeps the mind lucid and in shape even late in life. Dementia patients can profit from art’s ability to improve memory and spark recollections.
It can improve mindfulness. Over time, mindful thinking can make us more resilient. As well as teaching us how to cope with daily turmoil, it prevents depression and reduces stress and anxiety. Viewing art helps to improve mindful thinking – simply observing the details, whether it be the colour, lines, anything that catches your eye.
It improves your self-awareness and self-esteem. Studies prove that patients who engage in a self-indulging activity (such as sculpting, drawing, painting and visiting a museum tour) drastically improve their self-esteem. Patients not only learn new skills, but improve their communication skills too.