Remember drawing and fingerpainting as a kid? Now, when was the last time you made art as an adult? Most people stop creating spontaneous artwork for fun as they get older – they lose interest or decide there’s a ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way to create. You might want to pick the paintbrush back up – recent studies show that art making is an excellent way to improve your emotional and brain health.
The cognitive benefits of all types of arts participation have been widely studied in kids and shown to boost academic achievement. So, is it any surprise that creating art is extremely beneficial to adults, too?
One study showed a reduction in the stress hormone cortisol among a group of adults engaged in an art class. All of these people were caring for ailing family members and had very high stress levels when they started. After a class session of only 45 minutes, their stress levels were lowered regardless of artistic skill level. Researchers also observed the same phenomenon in college students preparing for exams.
An important thing to note about the studies was that the groups who made art unrelated to trauma they were experiencing were the ones who received the most benefit. Although interpreting one’s emotions through creativity is definitely important and has resulted in great works of art, painting, drawing, making jewelry and other creative tasks are a healthy outlet for distraction from stressors.
Making art doesn’t even need to be a formal process to have an impact. Do you like to doodle during boring meetings? Keep it up! Doodlers were found to recall 29% more information than those who’d rather not sketch dinosaurs across their lecture notes. Be careful, though, if PowerPoints figure heavily in your meeting – doodling boosts auditory memory, but impairs visual memory.
Finally, making art helps bring balance, flow and order to your life. If you’d rather not do visual art, writing a narrative about your life can help you make sense of it. Psychologists also suggest that simply being ‘in the zone’ while creating can bring more positivity and enjoyment to life.
Ready to get started? Check out the class offerings at Rosewood Arts Centre. You’ll find plenty of artmaking opportunities to de-stress your life, with programs for all skill levels in painting, glass, theatre, drawing, music, watercolor, languages, sculpture, jewelry, creative writing, pottery, dance, photography, printing and more.
Heller, Steven. “The Cognitive Benefits of Doodling.” The Atlantic, July 9, 2015. Accessed August 2, 2017.
Kaimal, Girija et al. “Reduction of Cortisol Levels and Participants’ Responses Following Art Making.” Journal of the American Art Therapy Association 33, no. 2, 2016: 74 – 80.
Kane, Sean. “7 science-backed reasons you should make art (even if you’re bad at it).” Business Insider, June, 29, 2016. Accessed August 2, 2017.