Many people view art as a superfluous activity, a luxury to be had only after the tasks of daily living are complete. As a painter and musician of 20 years, I believe in the importance of art and stress this importance to all of my patients as well. Not to mention, numerous studies are beginning to identify a link between art and good health as well. Here are 5 reasons why it’s worth taking time out of your day to get creative:
1. Art Calms The Nervous System
In this fast paced society, it’s safe to say we are almost always in the “sympathetic”, or short-term survival mode of functioning, whether it’s because of workplace stress, walking next to speeding cars, or constant media consumption. There are increasingly less “parasympathetic” activities (the so called “rest and relax” part of our nervous system) which balance out this anxious energy, but doing art in any form is a great way to slow down and reclaim the health of your nervous system.
2. Left And Right Balance
Along the same line, many of us are using (or overusing) our left brain, typically more analytical and organized in nature, and underusing the right brain, which is associated with more spontaneous and creative acts. The brain is a very “plastic” or constantly regenerating tissue, and if one part of the brain is unused then it atrophies, just like a muscle. You wouldn’t go into the gym and only exercise one half of your body, right? Time to exercise the right side of your brain with some art as well.
3. All About The Emotions
If you believe in the mind-body connection, you know the role of emotions in our overall health. Along with activities such as journalling and meditation, doing art can be a great way of both venting negative emotions as well as enhancing positive ones, and can be added into a daily routine to defuse stress that has accumulated throughout the course of the day.
4. The Big Picture
Ultimately, when the artist develops into maturity, he/she starts producing work that is consumed by those around them in some form. This leads to a relationship between the artist’s ideas and society at large, forming connections with people that might otherwise not have occurred. The artist can benefit from this and society can benefit from the new ideas and perspectives; this social and community health aspect of art shouldn’t be ignored.
5. Art As The Ultimate Holistic Activity
When you think about it, there are not very many activities that singularly encompass our entire beings; from the most physical (working with our hands to create something), emotional, societal, and spiritual (the creation of identity and search for meaning through art). To borrow the gym analogy again, we know that full body exercises are in many ways superior to ones that exercise a single muscle; why not place the same importance on full-being exercises as we go through life?