In an age where technology seems to be king, you may be shocked to hear that 77% of those with a creative hobby would rather give up their Netflix subscription than go without their creative activity.
For those who make time for them, artistic hobbies can become a cornerstone of their wellness; a retreat from the busyness of everyday life; a place to feel fulfilled and content. Multiple studies confirm that art can help to alleviate the symptoms of stress and anxiety, improve your resilience and make you happier. Still not sure about picking up that paintbrush? Here’s why you should.
Contentment at your fingertips
Studies have shown that activities which keep your fingers busy, such as knitting, drawing or painting, can change the brain's neurochemistry, making you feel happier. The simple repetitive movement can be comforting, combined with the added bonus of a sense of satisfaction at the finished result. You can find inspiration all around you; try sketching the fine detail of a rose in your garden or painting the contents of your kitchen fruit bowl. While your fingers work, your mind should start to relax, allowing a feeling of contentment to flourish.
Going with the flow
The psychologist Csíkszentmihályi coined the expression ‘state of flow’ for the mindset you enter when absorbed in a creative activity. Artistic hobbies are brilliant for immersing you in the project at hand, helping you to escape from anxieties, aches or stresses, and relieving the pressure on your mental health. They also offer a great outlet for self-expression, as all thoughts about what others may think temporarily disappear as you focus on the work. To enter a state of flow, experts suggest finding an activity which is meaningful and challenging but ultimately achievable. That cross stitch project or sketch of your favorite flower would be perfect.
Art for anti-aging
Enjoying artistic hobbies or interests can also boost your wellness as you grow older. There is scientific evidence for art helping to boost resilience, as older participants in one study found. Completing an artistic project improved connectivity in parts of the brain which help memory, self-monitoring and introspection. Art can also help to build the important social connections which so many people are missing; new research shows that more than 60% of us feel lonely, left out or misunderstood, particularly as we grow older. From signing up to a weekly art class to visiting local exhibitions and meeting like-minded people, art can really help to open conversations and forge friendships. Regardless of your ability, simply taking part and being interested can go a long way.
For a natural way to feel better, art can offer so much. The physical act of using your hands to create something can immediately make you feel happier, as well as absorbing you into a mindset away from everyday concerns. Taking part in a creative activity can also help to strengthen the connections in your brain, helping to protect your long term mental health as you grow older. Finally, connecting with others through the sheer pleasure of creating together or viewing the works of others can bring much needed friendship and fun. Pick up that sketchpad, and prepare to feel brighter.