The Healthy Power of Making Art
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The Healthy Power of Making Art

Presidents, it seems, are as inclined to doddle as the rest of us. During one meeting with legislative leaders, General Eisenhower drew himself as a bold nude (from the waist up) in front of gunboats. Lyndon Johnson often doodled three-faced figures, perhaps in recognition of the complexities of political loyalties.

And it seems doodling is also productive. One study found it can improve retention of info by 29 percent. In fact producing any kind of art—quality doesn’t matter!—provides wonderful benefits to the creator.

A study published in the journal Art Therapy found making art reduces your blood cortisol levels and calms down your stress responses. Another study found artistic pursuits promote neurological changes that enhance resilience and defend against the toll chronic stress can take on cognitive functioning.

Get kids creating: It’s important for children at all grade levels to have access to art classes. On reason—studies show schools with established arts programs have students who do better socially and academically. One study found students with four years of art classes scored 91 points higher on their SAT exams than those who took half a year or less.

Adults reap big benefits: The Creativity and Aging Study found after a couple of years, “those involved in the weekly participatory art programs…reported: (A) better health, fewer doctor visits, and less medication usage; (B) more positive responses on the mental health measures; (C) more involvement in overall activities.” Creating art also promotes healing when you’re coping with the aftermath of an illness.