The Healthy Power of Making Art

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. 

Medically reviewed in April 2018.

Who is Grandma Moses?
Discovery HealthDiscovery Health
Anna Mary Robertson Moses is an esteemed painter of nostalgic farm scenes, such as maple sugaring or...
More Answers
What is the spiritual role of art?
Arianna HuffingtonArianna Huffington
Artist recognize a timeless truth and, taking hold of it in their work, bear it over to the rest of ...
More Answers
Does art therapy help treat suicidal adolescents?
Richard RicciardiRichard Ricciardi
Great question. Art therapy is a form of expression that may facilitate communication between adoles...
More Answers
What role does an art therapist play in mental health therapy?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
As part of the overall treatment team, the art therapist uses various forms of art such as painting ...
More Answers