The Mental Health Benefits of Art-Making: Why You Should Create Art Even if You’re Not an Artist
Art is not just for artists. In fact, it’s for everyone. Whether you’re a natural-born artist or not, there are countless benefits to creating art. Not only can it bring you enjoyment, but it can also improve your mental health, according to research.
The Impact of Music and Art on Physiology
Music and art have been shown to have positive effects on physiological states. For instance, a study found that art can improve the well-being of breast cancer patients by reducing negative emotions and improving positive ones.
Art Improves Overall Health and Well-Being
In addition to the impact on physiological states, creating art can also improve overall health and well-being. It can offer a form of distraction, improve self-identity, and provide a social network for those with chronic illness.
Art Can Significantly Reduce Stress Levels
One recent study from 2016, entitled “Reduction of Cortisol Levels and Participants’ Responses Following Art Making,” found that making art can significantly reduce stress levels, regardless of artistic talent or experience. This was a finding that wasn’t surprising to Girija Kaimal, EdD, who said, “Everyone is creative and can be expressive in the visual arts when working in a supportive setting.”
The Experiment and Results
The study involved 39 students between the ages of 18-59, including a diverse representation of race and experience with art-making. The participants engaged in an hour session of art-making, using mediums like collages, clay modeling, and markers.
The participants created an imagery of their choice and had a supportive art therapist in the room to handle any questions. Saliva samples were taken to test cortisol levels before and after the session.
After a statistical analysis, it was found that cortisol levels were significantly lower following the session. Even more impressively, 75% of people demonstrated lower cortisol levels. Additionally, cortisol levels didn’t differ based on prior experience with art-making, media choice, race, and gender.
However, there were differences in levels based on age and time of day. Younger individuals displayed a greater reduction in stress levels than older people after art-making. This could be explained by the fact that younger people are still figuring out ways to deal with stress and challenges. In terms of the time of day, stress levels were found to be higher in the morning and tapered off throughout the day.
Looking Towards the Future
Kaimal plans to explore the link between the reduction in stress levels and creative self-expression in a therapeutic environment. Additionally, she plans to look into the effect of the visual arts on the elderly and their caregivers.
In conclusion, while some of us may be more naturally gifted in the arts than others, it doesn’t matter. The benefits of creating art are numerous, with mental health improvements being just one. So, whether it’s painting, sculpting, drawing, sketching, or any other form of art, why not give it a try? You may be surprised by how much you enjoy it and how much it can positively impact your life.