This week has been a stressful one for me. So today, I gathered together my sumptuous watercolour oil pastels and played with whimsy for a while. Afterwards, I felt calm and more relaxed. Generally, when I’m stressed, I reach for sugar filled sweets. Surprisingly, this time I didn’t experience that craving.
Recent research shows that visual art interventions have relaxing and calming effects on people by reducing distress, increasing self-reflection and self-awareness, changing behaviour and thinking patterns, and also by normalizing blood pressure, cortisol levels and heart rate. A recent study (Bolwerk et al, 2014) found that creating art improves effective interaction between brain regions and improves resilience, which may have important implications for preventive and therapeutic interventions.
As the population ages, a greater number of challenging health conditions are expected. Art based activities have been shown to improve interaction, especially between the frontal and posterior and temporal brain regions, and may be a valuable prevention tool in managing the burden of chronic illnesses in older adults.
Source: Bolwerk A, Mack-Andrick J, Lang FR, Do¨rfler A, Maiho¨fner C (2014) How Art Changes Your Brain: Differential Effects of Visual Art Production and Cognitive Art Evaluation on Functional Brain Connectivity. PLOS ONE 9(7).