When you think about wellness, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it yearly check-ups at the doctor’s office? Is it making sure you’re taking your medications? Is it taking an art class, listening to music, or attending a theatre performance? What would your life be like if the ARTS were considered a part of your wellness? While Western medicine has provided our world with many powerful tools to promote wellness, the medical system has been increasing their scope of practice to include more holistic views of care. Health care systems are acknowledging the benefits of including art and creativity as a part of overall physical and mental wellbeing. The value of art, in its many forms, has proven time and time again its ability to enrich and promote a healthy quality of life.
For example, listening to music has been shown to calm neural activity in the brain, leading to decreases in anxiety and pain along with improvements in immune system functioning.1 Cultural engagement, such as going to the theatre, museums, concerts, or galleries, have been proven to increase cognitive resilience and decrease memory decline in older adults.2 Engagement in art-related activities is also a useful tool for encouraging health-promoting behaviors such as movement, connection to others, and emotional expression—all of which are related to improved mental and physical health outcomes.3 Creating art has also proved useful in improving physiological indicators of health, such as decreasing high blood pressure and reducing the production of stress hormones.
So while you continue to visit your doctor for your health and wellbeing, add in some creative self-care strategies! Visit a museum or gallery, attend a live performance, or find some time to write, draw, paint, or play music. Developing an arsenal of self-care strategies, including art-related activities, can better help you to express yourself emotionally and physically. Your health will be better for the time you spend caring for yourself through art.
Stay tuned for more ideas, examples, and tips for creating your own art habit.
- Stuckey, H. L., & Nobel, J. (2010). The connection between art, healing, and public health: a review of current literature. American journal of public health, 100(2), 254–263. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2008.156497
- Finn & Fancourt, D. (2019). What is the evidence on the role of the arts in improving … Retrieved June 10, 2020, from http://www.euro.who.int/en/publications/abstracts/what-is-the-evidence-on-the-role-of-the-arts-in-improving-health-and-well-being-a-scoping-review-2019
- Raschke, H. (2017, February 10). Did You Know the Arts Can Lower Your Blood Pressure? Retrieved June 10, 2020, from https://www.nextavenue.org/did-you-know-the-arts-can-lower-your-blood-pressure/