How Art Can Make You Happy

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Did you know there is an increasing amount of scientific evidence that proves art enhances brain function? Art therapy can be effective in helping kids deal with grief, trauma, anxiety, and depression. Art has an impact on brain wave patterns, emotions, the nervous system, and can actually raise serotonin levels. Art can change a person’s outlook and the way they experience the world. Exercising our creativity every day provides an outlet to everyday routines and helps us express emotions while boosting our happiness levels.

“Children will be better off in the long run if they’re allowed just to be in the moment and express themselves,” says Lisa Ecklund-Flores, cofounder and executive director of Church Street School for Music and Art, in New York City.

MEXICAN PAINTER FRIDA KAHLO PAINTING HER PLASTER CAST

Frida Kahlo painting her plaster body cast while recovering.

“I am not sick. I am broken. But I am happy as long as I can paint” – Frida Kahlo

Increases mindfulness – When we are creating art, we are engaged so fully that it shifts the focus on whatever is going on around us and it brings us into the present moment. It is difficult to dwell on other problems when we are immersed in creating artwork.

Reduces stress – Studies show that both creating and observing art can reduce cortisol*(the stress hormone). Doing something we love also releases endorphins which are the feel-good chemicals. Endorphins help combat stress and even reduce pain.

Builds self-esteem – I have met so many people that tell me they just “aren’t creative” or they don’t do it because they aren’t “any good” at it. Don’t let the fear of not being “good” stop you from creating. Creating artwork, no more how “good” or “bad” it is, has a tangible result. The more we engage in creating, the more improvement we see so it provides a sense of achievement.

Creates a healthy state of mind – Participants in a 2014 study** who produced art demonstrated ‘a significant improvement in psychological resilience’ as well as increased levels of “functional connectivity” in the parts of the brain responsible for introspection, self-monitoring, and memory.

By encouraging kids to create art at home, not only are we are fostering their creativity and self-expression, we are giving them another outlet to work through difficult times.

Not sure where to start with creating art at home? We have free lesson plans here to get help get you started.

*Normalisation of salivary cortisol levels and self-report stress by a brief lunchtime visit to an art gallery – Angela Clow with Cathrine Fredhoi, University of Westminster 2006. 

**How Art Changes Your Brain: Differential Effects of Visual Art Production and Cognitive Art Evaluation on Functional Brain Connectivity – Anne Bolwerk, Christian Maihofner, July 2014.

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