The Covid crisis has revealed our physical and mental health vulnerabilities. While the first consideration of treatment in either case is typically sought through conventional medical practitioners, there are simple lifestyle choices that can have impact both preventatively and therapeutically. In addition to diet, exercise, and rest, recent research has shown that engagement in creative or expressive arts can significantly improve health and well-being.
A 2020 study in the UK concluded that people who frequently engaged in the arts (either passively or actively) at least once per week have lower levels of stress, higher levels of mental functioning, and better health behaviors than those who do not.
Here are just some of the health benefits of a 'creative' diet:
INCREASED HAPPINESS: The 'flow state' attained through complete absorption in an activity reduces anxiety, boosts mood (dopamine, serotonin) and slows heart rate.
IMPROVED MENTAL HEALTH: regular creative engagement reduces stress / depression, sharpens mind, can prevent / delay dementia and provide calming effects comparable to meditation.
IMMUNE SYSTEM BOOSTER: creative daily routines such as visual or verbal journaling have been shown to increase lymphocyte levels in immune-compromised individuals.
Perhaps it's time to invest in a set of paints rather than a slew of medical bills, and enjoy the accessible, enriching and productive form of self-care that creative arts expression can offer.