Can Art impact our health?

Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.

              ~ Pablo Picassopicasso

This is one very interesting and emerging topic. In the last decade, there has been done a lot of research with positive results on how arts can help us improve our health and help us in our healing journey – both mentally and physically.

The idea that creative expression can make a powerful contribution to the healing process has been embraced in many different cultures. Throughout recorded history, people have used pictures, stories, dances, and chants as healing rituals.

Each type of arts (visual, acoustic or verbal) has its own benefits.

In this post I will exclusively focus on writing and the power of language. The results of some researches are quite fascinating. For example, Dr. James W. Pennebaker of the University of Texas at Austin has designed several studies to show the links between writing and health:

Writing about emotional upheavals in our lives can improve physical and mental health. Although the scientific research surrounding the value of expressive writing is still in the early phases, there are some approaches to writing that have been found to be helpful.

In a series of exercises, healthy student volunteers who wrote about traumatic experiences had more positive moods, fewer illnesses and better measures of immune-system function than those who wrote about superficial experiences. Even 6 weeks later, the students who’d written about what upset them reported more positive moods and fewer illnesses than those who’d written about everyday experiences.

In another study of students vulnerable to depression, those who did expressive writing exercises showed significantly lower depression symptoms, even after 6 months, than those who had written about everyday matters.

There have been also developed a range of new therapies that use arts as basic methodology and approach with noticeable success. For the visual summary of how arts can beneficially impact our health you can look at the infographic given at this link that was developed by Art and Health Network Canada.

So, whenever you can, surround yourself with art or get involved in some artistic work: it’s fun, creative and most importantly is doing good for your health and wellbeing.

Health by Rafael Campo

While jogging on the treadmill at the gym,
that exercise in getting nowhere fast,
I realized we need a health pandemic.
Obesity writ large no more, Alzheimer’s
forgotten, we could live carefree again.
We’d chant the painted shaman’s sweaty oaths,
We’d kiss the awful relics of the saints,
we’d sip the bitter tea from twisted roots,
we’d listen to our grandmothers’ advice.
We’d understand the moonlight’s whispering.
We’d exercise by making love outside,
and afterwards, while thinking only of
how much we’d lived in just one moment’s time,
forgive ourselves for wanting something more:
to praise the memory of long-lost need,
or not to live forever in a world
made painless by our incurable joy.

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