When was the last time you picked up a paintbrush or a crayon? Do you recall how it felt to let your creativity flow? If you’re thinking that it felt good, that’s because emerging research shows that making art is good for you.
Art strengthens the brain, reduces anxiety, stress and depression, and aids communication. These benefits occur no matter what a person’s creative outlet is, from drawing and decorating to painting and sculpting.
In one study, researchers in Germany found that retired seniors who participated in a class where they learned hands-on painting and drawing skills had increased levels of functional connectivity among the neurons in the brain, as shown in MRI scans, compared with peers who only observed art through an art appreciation class. They also found a significant improvement in psychological resilience, a term that describes a person’s ability to manage negative emotions.
Another study, conducted by researchers at Drexel University, suggests making art can lower stress by decreasing cortisol levels, which is a hormone that affects how the body responds to stress. The researchers examined healthy adults before and after a 45-minute art class, finding significantly reduced cortisol levels after the adults spent time making art.
If you are interested in becoming more artsy but don’t know where to begin, coloring is an easy place to start. Studies show that coloring is an activity that soothes the brain, decreases feelings of anxiety and boosts serotonin levels as the artist concentrates on coloring within the lines.
Go ahead, grab a box of crayons and a coloring book and explore your creative side. It’s not just for children anymore.