It seems over the last few years, our culture is focused on the importance of mental health more than ever. The increase of depression, anxiety, and stress in our culture is evident as we watch the news, scroll social media, see turbulence in our schools, and talk with those around us.
As moms, we know the investment in mental health is important. We hear often about ways to increase mental health such as eating well, exercise, getting the proper amount of sleep, talking openly with a trusted friend, seeing a therapist, and taking medication.
However, we don’t often hear about the benefits of increasing art in our lives.
As a local artist and art studio owner, I see first hand the numerous benefits of art in both adults and children! And one of the best perks of utilizing art for your mental health is the low cost and flexibility.
Here are some of the top benefits of art for you and your children.
Art Relieves Stress
Did you know the average person has 60,000 thoughts each day and most of them are the same every day?! When you sit down to doodle, paint, sculpt, or collage you are providing your brain a break from your usual thoughts. Art activities can provide a distraction for your brain that can lower your stress level.
You can experience a feeling of mental clarity far better than any therapy session and for the fraction of the cost!
When you are immersed in an artistic activity you can enter a “flow” or meditative state. This state helps to push all worry away and provide a focus for your mind. This holds true for kids as well. Many parents comment that they are surprised how their child’s behavior problems and anxiety are so diminished during art classes at our studio. When a child’s brain is distracted by the worries of school or performance, they can freely create. Kids experience calmness and relax in a way they can’t in other settings.
Art Boosts Self-Esteem
I see kids and adults feel a sense of accomplishment and self-satisfaction often in the art studio. Kids and adults face many challenges daily. It can sometimes be months before a child who is struggling with a subject in school finds a win. In motherhood, our goals get checked off only to be added to the top of the to-do list minutes later… such as laundry, cleaning the kitchen, picking up toys.
Sometimes all a mom wants is to complete a task and sit for a few minutes with a warm cup of coffee and feel like they did actually did something of worth!
The feeling of accomplishment can be fleeting with dishes and laundry and homework and quizzes. However, with art, you can sit for a few minutes and complete a project and have something to show for it that can last forever. Creating art has been proven to release the dopamine neurotransmitter, which is known as the “feel-good” neurotransmitter and also the motivation molecule. It doesn’t need to be a masterpiece. The simple technique of art journaling can provide accomplishment and success that is tangible. This sense of accomplishment leads to a boost in self-esteem and well being. Young kids are proud to display their works of art created in our studio. Kids know the creation is uniquely theirs and find self-worth in creating a one of a kind work of art.
Art Increases Brain Connectivity
When a child is engaged in art all the senses are stimulated- sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. Can you remember the smell of crayons? Or the touch of clay? Even taste can be engaged when art involves creative projects such as stamping with apples! When the senses are stimulated brain synapses fire and neural connections are created.
New connections are made between cells which essentially is brain growth– which is called brain plasticity. When brain plasticity is increased humans develop greater psychological and emotional resilience. This means we become more resistant to stress and the negative emotional and physical effects of stress.
Art Increases Problem Solving Skills
One of the most valuable qualities kids and adults can develop in life is problem-solving. The ability to think outside of the box and find unique solutions brings innovation and excitement to our world. This applies both for the toddler who discovers how to build a tower of blocks to the engineer who discovers a new process that will change the world! As a mom, one of the most rewarding moments is when your young child finds a solution all by themselves!
Think of the time your child interrupts you in the middle of a sink of dirty dishes and asks for help. You reply “I’ll help as soon as I finish these dishes”. A few minutes later you go to help with the situation and you are no longer needed!! Your little human has engaged his problem-solving skills and found a solution on his own. Creativity is linked to solutions to worldwide problems, breakthroughs, and many inventions. Art provides an opportunity for kids and adults to be original, innovate, discover and create in a safe environment. This leads to greater problem-solving skills that can be applied to all areas of life.
Art Exposure Make Children Better Students
Umm… can I get an amen with this benefit?!!! As moms, this is absolutely a huge priority! As children spend time creating art they are becoming better students. Art involves a series of decisions. Spending time making decisions on color, composition, texture, and subject matter trains kids in important critical thinking skills… and they are having fun while learning!
The tools utilized in the arts are also used in other subjects. Kids are focusing and problem-solving as they create, which will help them in math, writing, and science. Young kids can improve fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination as they hold paint brushes, stamps, scissors, and clay. The unique benefit of utilizing art as a prep for creating better students is that kids are less resistant to art and don’t realize the learning that is taking place. It can be difficult to have your child write or practice math for an hour… but they might sit and doodle and draw for hours at a time!
Adding more art into your life or your child’s life doesn’t need to be complicated. Simply focus on the process and not on the outcome when it comes to art. Talent is not an excuse. We are all creative. Especially as moms… we have an innate creative ability because we created a human! Every day we are utilizing creativity in our motherhood. Let yourself try something new. Doodle in your planner. Buy a watercolor journal. Set yourself and your child free to doodle, draw, or paint with no purpose in mind. The benefits are huge and the cost is minimal. Try sitting tomorrow with a cup of coffee and get creative for a few minutes!
Sources: bebrainfit.com, artfulparent.com, inc.com, clevelandclinicwellness.com, sharpbrains.com