Art and Science Healing
Art and beauty can have a profound impact on health. It can relieve stress, ease pain and anxiety, and increase positive moods.
But how does art do these things? The answers can be found through research and personal experiences. One such study was conducted by researchers at Harvard Medical School.
Art as a tool for healing
Throughout history, many cultures have used art as a tool for healing. It can be used to explore emotions, help people cope with stress and anxiety, and build self-esteem. Moreover, it can also be used to teach people how to manage their own health.
A growing movement to recognize that “health” is more than just the absence of disease or infirmity has led to innovative approaches that include arts and health. These include integrating art into therapeutic, preventive and community health efforts and using it to convey health messages to diverse populations.
Studies show that if you view or create art, it can have healing effects. For example, when you view something you consider beautiful, your brain releases a feel-good chemical called dopamine. This reduces your level of cortisol, which is a stress hormone, and can help you feel calmer. Other examples of healing art are music and color. Music can soothe your body, and different colors can have different vibrations.
Art as a means of self-expression
The smallest details in a painting or piece of music can tell a lot about the person who created it. This is because art is a way of capturing the essence of one’s personality. For example, a painting may show that the artist is a creative and imaginative person. In addition, it can also show that the artist is sad or depressed.
Creating art as self-expression is an activity that can be practiced by anyone. Children from a very young age intuitively express themselves through creativity. Even if they do not know how to paint, they will instinctively finger paint with their hands.
Some artists have used their artistic skills to address social issues. From Leonardo DaVinci’s anatomical drawings to Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, art has the power to create change and challenge norms. However, many people misunderstand the nature of art. They may believe that they are expressing their feelings by writing songs, drawing paintings, or doing needlework.
Art as a form of therapy
Artistic self-expression has been used as a form of therapy throughout history. It is believed that artistic expression can help heal emotional traumas, enhance awareness of the self and others, establish self-reflection capacity and transform one’s behaviour and way of thinking. Various forms of art can be used in this healing process, such as paintings, storytelling, dances and yoga. Moreover, engaging in these activities can help alleviate the pain caused by chronic illness.
For example, creating a sculpture may stimulate tactile sensations that promote positive emotions. Alternatively, painting a scene from a cherished memory can promote cognitive function and a sense of well-being. Likewise, group art projects can foster social interaction and promote feelings of belonging.
Although the general public often perceives art as a secondary form of therapy, it has real psychological benefits. Unlike talk therapy, art has the ability to tap into a different part of the brain that stores traumatic memories. This is why it can be so helpful to those who are suffering from depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses.
Art as a form of self-reflection
Often, individuals can connect with artwork on an emotional level. They may experience emotions or memories that are similar to those depicted in the art piece, fostering a sense of self-reflection. This can be especially true for abstract art, which encourages viewers to explore their own inner worlds and emotions.
Many creative modalities, including music, visual arts, and poetry can be used for self-reflection. However, art-based wellness offers a unique approach that combines guided art-making with prompts for self-reflection. This method can help individuals reduce stress, cultivate self-empowerment, and improve communication and relationships.
During an art-based wellness session, participants can create visual journals with images, words, and patterns. Over time, they may discover recurring themes and issues, providing insight into their mental health landscape. They can also use the journal as a tool to practice self-reflection and mindfulness.