If painting, sculpting, drawing, scrapbooking or photography are hobbies of yours, you’ve been unknowingly promoting positive health while you create. There are more benefits of arts and crafts than just enjoyment, ranging from enhancing self-esteem and increasing brain productivity, to even lessening the effects of serious health conditions.
6 benefits of arts and crafts
A study in the American Journal of Public Health titled ‘The Connection Between Art, Healing and Public Health’ found that those who engaged in art experienced “reductions in stress and anxiety” and “increases in positive emotions”. When you become immersed in creating art, your mind is able to break away from pressing or distracting thoughts and really focus on the task at hand. This creates a meditative state where concerns are momentarily forgotten, in doing so lowering stress levels and creating mental clarity.
Seeing the finished work of your creative venture provides a burst of self-esteem that brightens the mood by increasing the neurotransmitter dopamine. Known as the feel-good molecule, dopamine reduces feelings of depression and generates confidence. Creative endeavours have the ability to instil a sense of achievement in the creator, which naturally promotes happiness.
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Learning about art and engaging in art has the ability to change the way you think and feel. A neurobiologist at University College London found that even just looking at art can provide enjoyment and increase critical thinking skills. Professor Semir Zeki discovered that people who view or create art are more tolerant of other people and also show more empathy.
Improves quality of life for those with illness
‘The Connection Between Art, Healing and Public Health’ also found that people with debilitating illnesses such as dementia and Alzheimer’s showed “improved medical outcomes” after creating art. The creative process lessened psychiatric symptoms and enhanced patients’ pleasure and social behaviour. Physician Dr Arnold Bresky, who uses art therapy to treat Alzheimer’s patients, says his patient’s memories have improved by 70% since engaging with art.
Enhances brain productivity
The increase of dopamine caused by creating art and craft enhances the creation of new neurons, which promotes focus, concentration and readies the brain for learning. By creating art, you strengthen the connectivity between the brain’s left and right hemispheres, in doing so boosting psychological resilience and productivity.
Lessens effect of serious health conditions
“Art filled occupational voids [and] distracted thoughts of illness,” according to ‘The Connection Between Art, Healing and Public Health’. Analysing more than 100 studies about the effects of art on mental and physical health, researchers found that the medium had multiple positive effects on those suffering from major health concerns. The subjects studied experienced less stress, were able to express their feelings more easily, and managed to maintain the identity of their former self through art. Pediatric oncologist Dr. John Graham-Pole uses art to help patients and staff cope with hospital. He says that “art is a social determinant of our health. It doesn’t cure a particular disease, but benefits whatever ails you”.
If you are already taking full advantage of the benefits of arts and crafts, you may want to unlock the health benefits of knitting.