Art and Health: The Benefits of Viewing Art

Why Art Should Be Incorporated into Mental Health Therapy

New Study Links Art Access to Better Health
New Study Links Art Access to Better Health

Are you looking for some easy ways to improve both your physical and mental health? Instead of going for diets or fasts, you should bring more art into your life. Science says it’s good for you! You don’t even have to create art, merely observing it will let you enjoy its numerous benefits.

Recent studies have shown visiting a fine art gallery or museum can positively affect your health and well-being in different ways, from lowering your anxiety and depression to boosting your critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Here are some facts why is observing art good for your body and soul.

Viewing Art Makes You Healthier

A health study conducted in Norway analyzed data gathered from more than 130,000 Norwegians ages 13 and up. They question more than 50,000 men and women about how often they participate in cultural events and activities such as going to galleries and museums, watching movies, going to the theater and similar. According to the lead author of the study from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, there is a strong link between participating in cultural activities and having increased rates of good health, self-satisfaction and lower rates of anxiety and depression. This applies no matter whether you only participate in cultural activities or create art yourself. This is very important to be mentioned because it proves that people who consume and create art get the exact same health benefits. Specifically, 84% of the subjects in at least four art related activities reported good health, while 91% reported a high level of satisfaction in their lives. Another interesting fact from the study is that females enjoy more benefits from creating art, while men get more benefits from observing art.

Viewing Art Makes You Smarter

Numerous studies have shown that creating or observing art can positively affect and sharpen your creative thinking and problem solving skills. Since in art there is no such thing as only one solution, viewers or creators are encouraging to think outside of the box and come up with new, creative, innovative and completely original solutions. Therefore, we can conclude that art encourages all the right parts in the brain to make us smarter. That is why the arts are especially important in children development. Artmaking at a young age has numerous benefits to kids’ physical, emotional and mental wellbeing, starting from motor skills development, visual processing and memory to boosting their self-esteem and helping them to freely express their feelings, thought, ideas and emotions.

Art Improves Thinking and Empathy

Research conducted by the University of Arkansas among students showed that taking a trip to a local gallery or museum has the ability to change how students think and feel for the better. The majority of the subjects, precisely 88% retained information from the tours, displayed improved critical thinking and gained tolerance and historical empathy after the trip. This shows us that people don’t necessarily understand each other’s feelings only through verbal communication. Sometimes, visual expression and communication can explain things and feelings in ways words never could.

Art Can Mimic the Physical Sensation of Falling in Love

Another fascinating study shows that viewing art can actually cause you to experience the physical sensation and reaction as when you fall in love. This was discovered by professor Zeki, a neurobiologist from the University of London. He scanned the brains of 28 people after observing some works of art and learned that when a person views artwork, they find beautiful, it triggers a release of dopamine into the brain – the same one related to feelings of pleasure and love.

These studies have only proven what many great philosophers have expressed in the past. For example, Plato believed that art has the power to shape a character, influence behavior and stir up emotions. Hegel believed at provides the viewer with intuitive, sensuous benefits, and shows him what human freedom can look like. Simply put, they claimed that art could make you happier, and they were right. Science proves that art cannot only make you happier, but also physically and emotionally healthier. Creating or consuming art can nourish the body and the soul in a way food, exercise or supplements never could. That is why we should all bring more art into our lives, either by creating it ourselves or participating in cultural activities more often.

Bringing more art into your life is very easy. You could start visiting the local museums and galleries more often, or you could create some art by yourself or with your kids. Artmaking is a great family activity that will help you create a different kind of connection and strengthen your bonds. Even the simple act of decorating your home with art (bought or made by yourself and your family) will ensure you harvest some of its numerous benefits.

I'm NOT a doctor! I'm just passionate about health and healthy leaving. The information on this website, such as graphics, images, text and all other materials, is provided for reference and educational purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional. The content is not intended to be complete or exhaustive or to apply to any specific individual's medical condition.