“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” Thomas Merton
When we engage in the arts, interesting things start to happen. Our brain begins to work better and our feelings of wellbeing increases. Scientific research has been exploring the benefits of creativity and why we should make art.
1. Improves Brain Function
Making art stimulates communication between various parts of the brain, creating new connections between brain cells. This helps to keep our brains healthy as we get older. A study from the University of Toronto found artists and people who are creative can be better protected against diseases like Alzheimer’s and Dementia later in life.
2. Relieves Stress
Studies have shown that art making can relieve stress levels by lowering the amount of cortisol in your body. Cortisol is a steroid hormone that helps regulate a range of processes. It helps to control the fight or flight response. After pressure or danger has passed our cortisol levels calm us down. If we are under constant stress, too much cortisol can derail important functions in the body. Making art can help relieve feelings of anxiety, and our cortisol levels can drop after just thirty minutes of art making.
3. Assists Problem Solving
Art is the one field of human endeavour that has no boundaries or rules. If a classroom of students is each presented with a ball of clay, they will come up with their own unique creations. Making art encourages creative thinking and allows us to explore solutions through the creative process.
4. Aids Recovery from Illness
Millions of people deal with chronic health conditions and the stress, anxiety, and depression that can accompany them. Art allows people to forget about their illness, and importantly creates an avenue for self-expression. Making art lifts our spirits and can help people turn negative experiences into something positive.
5. Increases Empathy and Tolerance
A study of over 10,000 students found that a one-hour trip to an art museum changed the way they thought and felt. Students who visited a museum not only showed increased critical thinking skills, they also exhibited greater empathy towards how people lived in the past, and expressed greater tolerance towards people different than themselves.
6. Boosts Self Esteem
We are bombarded on a daily basis with ideas about how we should look or act, and many of us at some point in our lives have struggled with self-acceptance. When we make art we are free to express ourselves without fear of judgment.