Human beings have been creating art since the dawn of time. From prehistoric cave paintings to Shakespearean plays, humans are, at our core, a creative bunch. That’s good news, since science has proven time and time again that creativity has major health benefits. So what are some of the health benefits of creativity? Read on to learn how using your creativity can help you live a long, healthy life.
Health Benefits of Creativity
In 2016, the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association published a study examining the creation of art and its effect on levels of cortisol, a stress chemical that can cause serious health problems over time. The study found that making art – be it in a visual medium like painting or a written medium like poetry – had a noted effect on reducing cortisol levels. Lowered cortisol levels have been proven to help people sleep better, heal faster from physical or psychological trauma, and stave off chronic health problems as they age.
In 2010, the American Journal of Public Health published a study titled “The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health.” The study had some very powerful findings in the mental health realm. First, the study found that making art over time eventually decreased individuals’ negative emotions. Creating art also increased the frequency of positive emotions, which led to lower levels of participant depression over time. According to the study, creating art also serves to fill “occupational voids.” Put simply, it helps people to focus on a productive task instead of dwelling on sad or anxious thoughts. Finally, the study found that creating art helped participants process “experiences that are too difficult to put into words, such as a diagnosis of cancer.” Ultimately, exercising creativity helps people process trauma and negative emotions, which greatly improves overall mental health.
Exercising creativity does more than just help humans process trauma and negative emotions: It also boosts positive emotions. A study published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Perception found that humans can reap feelings of pleasure, reward, and contentment not just by creating art – but by looking at it, too. According to the study, looking at an unfamiliar work of art activates the portion of the brain that promotes feelings of pleasure and happiness. Overall happiness can also be derived from creating art with your hands. If you’ve ever engaged in a creative activity like knitting, painting, or drawing, you’ve probably experienced a feeling of deep relaxation as you completed the task. Using your hands for a creative activity is a great way to boost your mood. That can, in turn, create long-lasting feelings of happiness and relaxation.
Improved Social Interactions
A boost to one’s social life might be one of the most unexpected health benefits of creativity. After all, many artists and creative individuals have a reputation for creating their masterpieces in solitude. However, engaging in a hands-on creative activity can greatly improve mental health, which can help individuals develop an improved sense of identity and confidence. That level of self-confidence can help individuals feel more spontaneous, allowing them to enjoy social interactions more. This is especially important for seniors. As we age, we deal with challenging periods of grief, health problems, and isolation. Exercising creativity can help with that.
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