How does art help the brain?
Maintaining mental well-being has been a challenge during recent pandemic challenges. World Mental Health Day is celebrated this Sunday, October 10th. This date raises several questions: how does art help the brain? During the coronavirus, many people turned to the art world as a form of creative outlet or an opportunity for expression. We now have enough evidence to support prioritizing the arts in our home lives as well as in education systems. Discover in this article how art has been helping the Human in terms of mental health.
Ability to manage mental well-being
The relationship between the arts and mental health is intensely established in the field of art therapy. This medium applies techniques based on painting, dance and theater to intervene in mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. There is also other evidence that art can be used in non-therapeutic contexts to promote mental health. Theater and the visual arts are examples of practices that can be applied to develop the ability to manage mental and emotional well-being.
With recent advances in the areas of biological, cognitive and neurological sciences, there are new forms of evidence on how art affects the brain. For example, researchers used biofeedback to study the effects of visual art on neural and neuroendocrine circuits, finding biological evidence that visual art promotes health, well-being and adaptive responses to stress . In another study, cognitive neuroscientists found that creating art lowers cortisol (stress) levels and induces more positive mental states. These studies are part of a new field of research, called neuroaesthetics: the scientific study of the neurobiological foundations of the arts. Neuroaesthetics uses brain imaging, brainwave technology and biofeedback to gather scientific evidence for how Humans respond to art. Thus, there is physical and scientific evidence that art engages the mind in new ways, delivering healthy emotions that make us feel good.
Art was considered an effective tool to help maintain concentration. Specifically, involvement with the visual arts has been found to activate different parts of the brain in addition to those overloaded by logical and linear thinking; and another study found that visual art activates distinct and specific visual areas of the brain. Thus, the conditions for mindfulness are created, involving different parts of the brain through the conscious change of mental states. Neuroaesthetic findings suggest that this is not an artist-only experience: it is simply unexplored by those with no artistic experience. Research shows that the Craft can be used to create a unique cognitive shift in a holistic frame of mind called flow. These studies identified that the relationship between art, flow and mental health leads to mindfulness, creativity and even enhanced cognition.
benefits in education
Currently, there has been an increase in published studies on the benefits of art in education, referring to the increase in academic performance and the development of innovative thinking. However, this area continues to be marginalized in education. Will the data obtained in neuroesthetic studies be enough to prioritize the arts in education? If that's the case, we may be close to providing the right tools to help young people with mental health crises.
Three tips for activities
Make mistakes: Try something new and be willing to make mistakes to learn. Most artists practice for years before being able to reproduce anything realistic, and are willing to make a lot of mistakes along the way because the brain rewards learning.
Reuse and repeat: try making pieces with reusable materials you already have at home or products that you can mold several times like plasticine. That way, there's no pressure to make something that looks good. If you really need to keep a copy, you can always take a quick photo of the work.
Language limit: Try not to speak when producing your creations. If you're listening to music, choose something without lyrics. Give yourself a break and take it easy.