Creating art is a purely human activity and one that gives a source of health advantages

What involves mind if you consider the word “art”? A chunk of art out of your child pinned to the fridge? A favourite artist whose work never ceases to encourage you? Abstract art that’s obscure?

All these approaches assume that the creation of art is a task for other people, akin to children or “talented people”.

However, as I explain in my book:The expressive instinct“Art is an integral a part of human evolution and history. Just as sports or exercise train the body, creating art trains the imagination and is important to each mental and physical well-being.

I’m a Professor of Art Therapy that studies how creative self-expression affects physical and emotional health. In our clinical research studies, my colleagues and I find that any type of creative self-expression – including drawing, painting, textile art, woodworking or photography – Reduce stressimprove mood and increase self-confidence.

As a sickly child who often had to remain home to go to high school, I discovered that art helped me cope. Today, art is my refuge. I take advantage of it as a sounding board to higher understand myself and to recharge and learn from life's challenges.

A bookmark covered with purple, white and yellow flowers lies on an open book.
Wildflower bookmark with ink drawing created by Girija Kaimal. “My aim was to capture the beauty of nature and the work of the human hand.”
Girija Kaimal

The uniquely human quality of creativity

Even though everyone has their very own idea of ​​what constitutes art, one thing is universal: creativity is a defining characteristic of the human species.

How so? Well, the human brain shouldn’t be a pc that processes data. It is a biological prediction machine that perceives the environment through memories and senses and has the power to Use this information to introduce yourself plausible future scenarios.

These innate abilities for prediction and imagination are the source of human power to survive and thrive – because self-expression is a security valve that helps us take care of uncertainty. No one really knows the longer term; everyone has to live every day not knowing what is going to occur tomorrow. Art may also help us all exercise this imagination in a useful way.

In our study investigating brain activity when using virtual reality tools to create 3D digital artwork, my team showed that Creative expression is a natural state of beingThe brain naturally uses fewer cognitive resources to be expressive and artistic than the Brain power required to finish a routine task this requires conscious effort.

Seemingly unusual on a regular basis activities can provide opportunities to tap into one's natural creativity and imagination: whipping up a meal in a flash from leftovers, considering of a distinct path to work, dancing slightly jig while listening to a song, or planting and tending a garden.

We have repeatedly present in our studies that only one session of real and honest self-expression can improve self-confidence and Reduce feelings of stress, Anxiety and burnout.

This is partly as a consequence of Creativity prompts reward systems within the brain. When we use our hands and body to precise ourselves, dopamine pathways are activated and we feel good. Dopamine is a neural messenger that’s related to the sensation of Feeling of hope, achievement or rewardOur brains are programmed to release feel-good hormones once we move, create, or engage in any form of expressive activity.

Utilizing the creative resources inside us is one of the underestimated seeds of well-being on the planet.

In comparison, filling or Denying these feelings could cause sufferingAnxiety and fear because we’ve not processed and expressed them. This might be considered one of the the reason why every community on the planet has its own creative and expressive practices. Even our ancestors in indigenous communities all over the world knew intuitively that Self-expression was essential to emotional health and social bonding.

Unable to share our lives, keeping secrets and the sensation of isolation and loneliness are likely to worsen our healthTo our brain, social isolation looks like a chronic illness since it interprets this loneliness and inability to precise ourselves as a threat to survival.

Because creative expression can engage the senses, it may well even be a physical exertion: a sensory in addition to emotional and cognitive experience. Actively expressing oneself—whether in art, music, dance, theater, writing, cooking, or working with nature—provides a way of confidence and hope that Challenges might be met and overcome.

A hand-drawn color portrait
Portrait artwork by Laila Ahuja, in progress.
Then Ahuja

The role of art therapy

Given the integral role of art in our lives, it’s logical that creating art may also help people address transitions, adversities and traumas, akin to the stress of adolescence, the death of a loved one or experience a serious illness.

According to a world study, one in two people experiences psychological challenges throughout their livesbe it as a consequence of life's challenges, genetic predisposition or a mixture of each.

This is where art therapy can are available in. Art therapy is a regulated occupation in the sphere of mental health during which clinical psychotherapists with extensive clinical training offer psychotherapy to patients with diagnosed mental health needs.

The origins of art therapy return to Attempts to treat soldiers affected by post-traumatic stress in the course of the two world wars of the twentieth century. Today there’s evidence that traumatic experiences are stored more easily than Sounds, images and physical sensations within the brain. If someone lost for words In order to process these experiences through traditional talk therapy, art therapy can provide an indirect approach to express and externalize these feelings and memories.

The strategy of creating art may also help people process feelings they can not put into words.

One of the unique strengths of art therapy is that it provides nonverbal ways to speak, process, and ultimately manage the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In fact, in a recent study, my team found that a private history of trauma was related to how people react to striking imagesImages of suffering and pain resonate with us when we’ve experienced similar suffering ourselves. This signifies that our life stories sensitize us to the suffering of others and even make it more personal.

Creative self-expression is especially essential in coping with trauma since it provides an outlet through which an individual can regain a way of agency and control.

A colorful stem with orange and yellow flowers and green leaves lies on a notebook page with a handwritten description behind it.
Artwork “Botanical Notes” created by 12-year-old self-taught artist Laila Ahuja as a part of a summer exercise to practice drawing and study different flowers all over the world.
Then Ahuja

How to bring creativity into your on a regular basis life

For those rediscovering art as a creative outlet or for well-being reasons, engaging in creative activities begins with letting go of unrealistic expectations. Being creative isn't about becoming a famous and even mediocre artist. It's about allowing ourselves to flex the creative muscles all of us have and revel in all of the sensory and emotional elements of the imagination.

Next, take into consideration activities that made you are feeling free to explore as a toddler. Did you enjoy singing, playing outside, dancing, making up role plays, or writing little stories? Indulge in all of those creative activities that made you are feeling relaxed and glad.

A cultural traditionTinkering with electronics, making a present for somebody or just being attentive to the wonder in on a regular basis life – all of those might be creative activities. And as with every muscle, the more you train it, the stronger it becomes. Over time, you’ll notice that you simply change into more confident and more willing to experiment together with your creative activities.

Whatever it’s, put aside time each week for this creative pursuit—which could be the hardest step of all. If it seems “unimportant” in comparison with the demands of each day life, like work or family, try to think about it as one other type of livelihood.

Remember that creativity is as essential to human health as a nutritious weight loss program or adequate exercise and rest. As the Latin proverb says, “Plene vivere.” Live life to the fullest.

A square box with the words “Art & Science Collide” and a drawing of a lightbulb with a filament in the shape of a brain, surrounded by a circle.
Series “Art and Science Collide”.

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