Art improves our well-being and keeps us connected
“All art is immortal. For emotion for the sake of emotion is the aim of art, and emotion for the sake of action is the aim of life.” — Oscar Wilde
Art is one of the oldest and most vital forms of human expression. From cave paintings to technology-based media, art has existed in many forms and continues to evolve along with humanity. It is historically a part of every culture and a defining characteristic of the human species. Although it is not essential to survival, its impact is timeless. Given the many benefits of art, it is important for people to continue to integrate it into their lives.
Creating Art Benefits the Brain
Art is not intrinsic and it can be expressed through visual arts, performance arts (dance, music, theater, etc.), or literature. Musicians use the medium of sound for expression. Dancers express themselves through body movement. Painters use paintbrushes to convey their feelings. A writer “paints” with words.
Creating art provides many benefits to the brain. The process of creation provides increased dopamine (known as the feel-good neurotransmitter) and blood flow to the brain. It can boost focus and motivation, alleviate anxiety, and reduce stress and depression. It can even help to build neural connections and increase brain plasticity, therefore preventing memory loss.
Art therapy is commonly used to improve mental wellness in multiple settings. Art therapists help people express themselves through activities that stimulate creativity, including painting, drawing, sculpting, coloring, and more. The creative process of art provides therapeutic and healing benefits for people of all ages.
You don’t need to work with an art therapist to reap the benefits of creating art. Anyone can be an artist. Whether you choose to express yourself through visual art, performing art, or literature, it is best to start by doing what you enjoy. This can even include hobbies like photography, woodworking, sewing, and other crafting activities.
The Rewards of Art Consumption
The benefits we can receive from art are not limited to creating. Viewing art can make you feel happier and less anxious and depressed. Spending 35 minutes or more exploring an art museum can lower cortisol, the stress hormone.
Taking a trip to a museum can even increase empathy and improve critical thinking skills. Our worldview can be limited to the small circle we spend most of our time in every day, yet by taking a trip to the nearest museum, we can be exposed to different cultures and history.
Looking at art can even feel like falling in love. Viewing beautiful art can trigger the brain to release dopamine, giving a sensation of pleasure. Studies show that by simply looking at artwork can increase blood flow to the brain by 10%, the equivalent of looking at a loved one.
There are many ways to reward the brain with art. Today art is more accessible than ever. If you can’t get to a museum, you can download an app like DailyArt, which features a different classic painting daily along with information about the painting and painter.
Create Art Fearlessly
Art stems from different purposes and intentions. Some art stems from bursts of energy and passion, while other art is created out of pain and in moments of weakness. As a means of self-expression, art allows people to attempt to make sense of chaos or to release inner chaos.
Artists do not have control over how their work will be perceived. One person can look at a painting and feel intense emotions, whereas another person can look at the same painting and see a jumbled mess of lines. What deeply affects one person may have no effect on the next, but there is something out there for everyone.
If you find yourself holding back from creating due to fear, try channeling that fear into your artwork. Some of the most famous works of art were created as a means of expressing difficult emotions. The best way to create is to express yourself authentically, and not to worry about what anyone thinks. You can’t please everyone, so create for yourself and reap the benefits.
Art is a constant reminder of humanity in an often inhumane world. Art can improve individual well-being, unify and strengthen communities, and can change the way we see the world. It is important for people to continue to produce and consume art, to keep humanity connected and to improve our quality of life.