We typically pursue creative activities like writing, drawing, dancing and more for passion or pleasure. But how do creativity and health go together? What are the benefits of art?
There are, in fact, countless advantages associated with creative endeavors, in terms of both our mental and physical well-being. Consider the following as you look to incorporate more creativity into your own life.
Researchers have found that art helps people make sense of different kinds of trauma.
“[A]rt helps people express experiences that are too difficult to put into words, such as a diagnosis of cancer,” Heather L. Stuckey and Jeremy Nobel say in an article on The Connection Between Art, Healing and Public Health. “[A]rtistic self-expression might contribute to maintenance or construction of a positive identity.”
Various studies also show that writing assists people in managing negative emotions. Over time, they report improvements in emotional health. Even writing about positive memories results in an increased sense of psychological well-being.
Similarly, art can make a difference in terms of our physical health.
Again, expressive writing may play a role, as it has been shown to lead to fewer doctor visits and better immune system function. It also helps with chronic pain management, according to one study, with subjects reporting improved pain control and a decline in pain severity after expressing their anger in writing.
Music, too, produces a noteworthy physical response. It has the potential to stimulate areas of the brains responsible for moderating reactions to stressful events and benefiting the body’s inflammatory response.
And finally, creative pursuits such as dance encourage mobility, which carries its own set of benefits. Dance can positively influence body image, or serve as a fun way to stay or become fit. Aerobic dance has been linked with better weight management, while research has shown that Zumba programs can improve blood pressure.
From writing to music, art goes a long way to improving cognitive health.
Writing things down, for example, helps with learning and memorization, researchers say. Meanwhile, music can significantly influence how different parts of our brains interact.
Acting is another form of art that impacts brain health in a tremendous way. Cognitive function, particularly word and listening recall and problem-solving abilities, receives a boost when people participate in theatre performances, according to a 2004 study.
Creativity and Health at The Clare
Clare resident Wendy Nixon is a prime example of how creativity and health go hand-in-hand. Following a cancer diagnosis, Wendy turned to art as a means of survival.
“The older I get, the more I believe that arts, crafts and writing hold far more answers to my health issues than doctor’s visits,” she says.
It’s helpful that The Clare promotes a lifestyle that focuses on enrichment and creativity. Other residents, like Jim Stack or Virginia Wolff, have found ways to hone their craft at the community. Plus, with a newly renovated studio and several art classes on rotation on the social calendar, the opportunities to pursue creative endeavors at The Clare are endless.