Creating and Enjoying the Arts for Better Health

I have been active in the arts community for over 30 years. While at university, I double majored with a studio art degree for the love of teaching and creating art. I was so thrilled to read Dr. Eifrig’s latest newsletter encouraging the arts for better health. Here are some highlights from his wise words.

Expressing yourself in creative ways keeps your brain healthy. And there’s plenty of science backing that up. Numerous studies have shown that creating art can benefit our health by doing things like:
Reducing stress
Reducing anxiety
Improving mood
Increasing self esteem
Helping you focus
Encouraging imagination
Generating feelings of hope
Allowing you to process complicated emotions
Creating an enriching social environment
Activating the reward centers in your brain

In one study, researchers at Drexel University wanted to see how creating art – i.e. visual self-expression – affected the reward system in our brains. So with the help of 26 participants – some who were artists and some who were not – the researchers asked folks to color, doodle, and draw while their brain activity was recorded.The participants got to do each activity for three minutes, and in between activities they rested with their eyes closed for two minutes. The neural activity in the front part of their brains – known as the prefrontal cortex – was recorded using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (“fNIRS”) the entire time.The researchers found that doing each of the three creative activities activated the participants’ prefrontal cortices and reward pathways significantly more than the resting condition. And the doodling condition was found to create the most activation of the three forms of art.This all essentially means that making art (like coloring, doodling, or drawing) tells your brain that you’re getting rewarded… which makes you feel happy and gives you pleasure.
Dr. Eifrig’s February 22, 2024 newsletter

Here are a few links Dr. Eifrig posted for easy ways to start benefiting from the arts.

There are so many different ways to create and enjoy art, so try out some different things and discover what you enjoy most. If art isn’t your thing, maybe music, baking, or photography would suit you more. Here are a few ideas to help you get started:

Beginner drawing instruction (8-minute video) – “The drawing exercise that changed my life

Beginner watercolor lesson (16-minute video) – “The very first watercolor lesson for beginners

Beginner flower arrangement tutorial (6-minute video) – “Flower arranging 101

Beginner building project (8-minute video) – “Making bird house from waste material

Beginner harmonica lesson (8-minute video) – “Breathing and tone

Beginner baking instruction (12-video series, each is 6 to 10 minutes long) – “Baking school: fundamentals

I direct plays in the Tampa Bay area. If you are local, come enjoy our performances.

One of my high school students painted this terrific version of Van Gogh’s Starry Night during class this month. Copying a master artist is a wonderful way to learn brush strokes and composition.

This painting below by one of my very talented high school student gives off so much energy and life. Consider capturing your pet in a painting or with photography to get started enjoying the arts.

I love seeing someone’s energy come out on a canvas!

Enjoy creating and supporting the arts in your community for better health and happiness!

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