The Healing Nature of Creating: Art’s Unexpected Health Benefits for Every Stage of Life
Following good habits is critical to living a long, healthy life. So, we try to eat right, get in the recommended 30 minutes of exercise, and down our daily vitamins. But there’s one simple routine we often neglect that can help prevent many serious medical conditions while sparking joy every time we do it.
According to researchers, adding art to our health regimen can immediately improve our overall mental and physical well-being. While we remember the fun we had as kids drawing, painting and sculpting, few of us make the time as adults to let our creative side run free. Yet, when we pick up a pen or a paintbrush, the impact can be life-changing, especially as we grow older.
Art offers a variety of benefits we can take advantage of at every stage of life, including:
Improved overall cognition – The arts stimulate the brain’s neuroplasticity, allowing it to build new connections and pathways, which in turn strengthen our cognitive abilities like learning new activities and recalling past experiences. By painting and drawing, we’re continually exercising both hemispheres of the brain throughout our lifespan. In fact, studies show that art helps children perform better in art and math and that seniors who do craft projects on a regular basis have a lower risk of cognitive decline.
Faster healing – Looking at and creating art both play a significant role in one’s recovery after an injury or illness. UAB Medicine explained that when arts programs are integrated into clinical settings, patients have shorter hospital stays, require less medication, better tolerate pain levels, and experience fewer complications! While art isn’t a substitute for medical care, it can elevate the effectiveness of one’s care plan.
Stronger hand-eye coordination – There’s a reason parents put a crayon in the hands of their toddlers as soon as they can – their little muscles become stronger, and they develop the hand-eye coordination needed to handle harder tasks. However, that coordination also boosts their academic skills. Psychological Sciencefound children with good hand-eye coordination scored better on academic tests and enriched their communication abilities.
For seniors, improving hand-eye coordination and strengthening gross motor skills through art improves their quality of life by making it easier to perform basic daily duties, such as buttoning a shirt or cooking a simple meal.
Reduced stress levels– Long-term stress can contribute to life-threatening health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. As individuals become more engaged with creative activities, they begin to feel relief from chronic anxiety and external stressors. Sixty-one percent of patients in a Cleveland Clinic study reported a decrease in stress levels when viewing the hospital’s art collection during their stay.
Greater self-confidence – Studies show that individuals who exhibit self-confidence are healthier overall. When you believe in your self-worth, you lower your risk of depression, take better care of yourself, and are more willing to try new things – the latter of which improves the brain plasticity we discussed earlier. In particular, those seniors who try their hand at art experience a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of purpose, two emotions an older adult needs to combat the loss of autonomy they often go through in an assisted living community.
Artfully Aging’s therapeutic watercolor art program has enhanced the mental, emotional and physical well-being of hundreds of seniors for the past decade. By now offering art sessions for every skill level online, Artfully Aging provides senior living communities the ability to launch a holistic art program that is affordable, accessible and effective. To learn more on how Artfully Aging can benefit your residents, please click here or contact us at 314.968.9148.