6 Health Benefits of Artwork
For many years, people have explored their feelings through art. People are able to express their innermost thoughts and feelings when words just don’t suffice. Thus, we can see that the first health benefit of art is that it keeps the mind healthy. It offloads emotions and it releases pent-up anger.
Art and chronic health conditions
First of all, in 2003, Reynolds and Prior conducted a study on the use of art with patients with a chronic health condition. In their study, they found that art could distract the patients from thoughts about their illness. Additionally, they were able to express grief and have a positive view of themselves.
Art and cancer
Between 2004 and 2007 there were 3 different studies involving art and cancer patients. Each one had a different variable. Walsh et al. looked at stress, anxiety, and emotions; Nainis et al. explored pain and psychology, and Reynold and Lim analysed general well-being of cancer patients. Undeniably, all three studies found a correlation between using visual arts and an improvement in the patients.
Art and trauma
In similar fashion, people have long considered art as a recovery tool after trauma. Healing after trauma is never an easy ride and it can place exceptionally difficult demands on the individual. Victims often tell of haunting visions but can’t put into words what they’re experiencing. In essence, art can provide a safe space of expression for many trauma victims. The calmness in the process of drawing or painting can have wonderful benefits. Above all, it can free the ever-busy mind of a trauma victim and can help them focus on something specific for a set period of time.
But, does art have any health benefits beyond the mind of the artist? What about the audience appreciating art?
Health benefits for the audience
A 2012 study, known as the Nord-Trondelag Health Study, found a correlation between art and good health. Those who took part in art had lower rates of anxiety and depression and were generally more satisfied with their lives. The same benefits were found for those that create art as those that view art. Thus, you can still reap the health benefits of art simply by appreciating it. Interestingly, men attending receptive art activities had a stronger association with positive health benefits.
A similar study, from the University of Westminster, showed that a short trip to an art gallery over a lunch break reduced cortisol levels. Since cortisol levels are a major symptom of stress, it could be said that a lunchtime visit to an art gallery and ward off stress and the associated health problems it causes.
Get to the gallery!
There are many things we consider important for our all-round health and perhaps up until now, you’ve never considered art as a way of healing. From these studies, we can ascertain six top health benefits to creating or viewing art:
-a reduction in stress and anxiety
-an increase in positive emotions/a reduction in negative emotions
-an increase in healing
-a rise in positive thoughts
-an improved focus on positive life experiences
-improved self-worth and social identity
Whatever your taste in art, why not put it to the test? Head down to your local art gallery and see how it makes you feel.