Art & Your Heart: Happy Together

Art & Your Heart: Happy Together

Art & Your Heart: Happy Together;

Art can be a way to reduce such stress as described on last page. If stress is bad for you, then creative pursuits are the opposite—creative pursuits allow people to find their “flow state,” a mental state in which they are so fully involved in an activity that they become unaware of passing time.

Stress and flow are mutually exclusive—spending time unstressed, with the benefits of lower blood pressure, lower heart rate and deeper respiration improves immune function, reduces anxiety and worry and can result in reduced risk for heart disease.

The mind-body connection is fascinating, and heart disease, in particular, has a special connection with the mind. We’re too often leaping to the next drug. It’s valuable to explore how lifestyle strategies such as engaging in creative arts may favorably influence risk.

WHAT SCIENTISTS KNOW

A considerable body of evidence supports these ideas. We already know…

  • Art helps you to process feelings about experiences that are too difficult to put into words, and it  also can be a refuge from the intense emotion associated with illness. In a study of women with cancer, researchers found that working with textiles and making cards, collages, pottery, watercolors or acrylics helped relieve participants of their preoccupation with illness while also enhancing their self-worth. Their artistic endeavors provided opportunities for achievement…gave them a social identity that was not defined by their cancer…and allowed them to express felling that might otherwise be too upsetting to face.
  • Dance and creative movement bring mind/body benefits. Music has the power to change how you feel, as we all have experienced…and avid athletes know that endorphins (brain chemicals created during exercise) improve mood. Combining these two can be a way to express your emotions while also realizing the health benefits of music and exercise.
  • Writing about traumatic experiences produces significant improvements in mood and health. Dozens of studies have shown that “emotional writing” (also called expressive writing) can reduce frequency of doctor visits, improve immune function, reduce levels of stress hormones and blood pressure, and lift a depressed mood. You can try journaling, poetry or just jotting down your thoughts, and you don’t need to worry about editing yourself—it’s the process of being creative and expressive that’s so valuable.

EXPRESS YOURSELF!

You can start applying this premise  to your  life now. There’s no limit to the ways you can engage in art in your life. Find a pursuit that fits your interest, and don’t worry about how others judge your performance. Everyone has an inner life, ideas, and a capacity to be artistic in some way. Just as with the children who draw, paint and sing simply because they like doing it, this is all about the process, not the product. Your art doesn’t have to be “good” to be good for you. Free the artist within…and see what a difference it can make!

pencil-drawing made easy
pencil-drawing made easy

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