The alarm goes off. Your routine is as follows:

Stretch
Cardio
Shower
Meditation
Healthy Breakfast
Paint…

You may say, “Well, I don’t paint.” Okay, then substitute: play an instrument, write a play, edit your photographs. Do none of these sound like part of your wellness routine? Well, maybe they should be.

The benefits of creative arts have long been accepted as part of making a better, more well-rounded individual, and in recent years scientific research has proven the benefits of creativity on both physical and mental health.

 

Practice Art for Your Physical Health

In their 2010 article, “The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Heath,” Stuckey and Nobel compiled shocking medical results in patients involved in art therapy.

 

Throughout their research, Stuckey and Nobel’s results included reductions in:

• heart rate,
• respiratory rate,
• myocardial oxygen demand
• anxiety and tension
• serum cortisol levels
• pain

In addition, their results found improvements in well-being, relaxation, ambulation, range of motion, and overall quality of life. Their research included patients being treated for cancer, dementia, chronic pain and illness, hemodialysis, HIV, fibromyalgia, and coronary disease.

In one study, HIV patients in art therapy had improvements in CD4+ lymphocyte counts, altering not just their mood or feelings but physically altering T cell counts. This means that art therapy had documented physical improvement on their immediate health (Stuckey and Nobel, 2010).

Knowing that chronic stress can lead to major health issues, imagine the long-term benefits of reduced stress and anxiety. If one can apply the results of art therapy without disease, art indeed can and should be used proactively to prevent illness, not only to treat existing conditions.

 

Practice Art for Your Mental Health

In addition to the physical benefits of practicing creativity, the results of the study also showed great improvements to the patients’ mental health and overall moods.

The same compilation of medical results also concluded that “art filled occupational voids, distracted thought, improved flow and spontaneity, aided expression of grief, helped promote a positive identity, decreased negative emotions while increasing positive emotions, and reduced depression in patients” (Stuckey and Nobel, 2010).

To any artist, it makes sense that self-worth increases with the act of creation. It is a high like no other, to create something of yourself, to sit down to blank paper and make a story or a song or an image appear. For many artists, this can become an obsession that must be kept in balance.

It is important to note here that art in highest form creates. Cathy Malchiodi in her article “Creativity as a Wellness Practice” touts that an adult coloring book will not leave you feeling fulfilled. She argues instead that it is the act of creating something that allows us to “live more fully, experience transformation, and recover the core of what it means to heal(Malchiodi, 2015).

Simply listening to music may be calming, but for the greatest benefits, you should be engaged and actively participating in the artistic process, not simply enjoying others art forms.

So, get creating! It is not selfish to make time for your art; it could very well save your life and absolutely will improve the quality of your life in the process.

 

 

By Jessica Fox

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Malchiodi, C. (2015). Creativity as a Wellness Practice. Psychology Today
Stuckey, H., & Nobel, J. (2010). The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health: A
Malchiodi, C. (2015). Creativity as a Wellness Practice. Psychology Today
Stuckey, H., & 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. doi: 10.2105/
ajph.2008.156497