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7 Ways Creating Art Benefits Your Brain March 7, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Art & Photography, Happiness, Humor, Mindfulness.

200px-RealMotherGooseCreative expression is good for us.

Art has helped people with anxiety, depression, addictions, PTSD, chronic pain, high blood pressure, bipolar disorder, and Alzheimer’s.

And it’s FUN!

Here are 7 Ways Creating Art Benefits Your Brain:

#1 Stress reduction ~ creating art gives your brain a break by focusing your mind and pushing worries aside.

It’s relaxing, meditative, and lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

#2 Art stimulates the brain to create new neurons and synapses, improving connections, communication, and memory.

#3 Art increases the “feel good” neurotransmitter, dopamine, which boosts drive, focus, and concentration.  Dopamine helps ward off depression and protects the brain from aging.

Mr. Weiss Classroom#4 Art increases brain plasticity, fluid intelligence, IQ, and attention.

It enhances cognitive abilities and memory even for people with brain disorders.

#5 Art immerses us in the NOW as we go with the flow and enjoy the journey.

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” ~ Albert Einstein

#6 Art lets us forget our troubles and express our feelings.

#7 “Art washes from the soul the dust of every day life.” ~ Pablo Picasso

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related post:  The Mental Health Benefits of Art for Everyone


1. Rainee - March 7, 2016

I like this post Nancy. I am printing it out for future reference :-).

nrhatch - March 7, 2016

Cool! When I paint, the whole world fades away as I choose a color . . . and the next color . . . and the next color.

It’s a relaxing, mindful, meditative, big fat stress reliever. Enjoy!

Rainee - March 8, 2016

Thanks Nancy – sounds like you get a lot out of it 🙂

nrhatch - March 8, 2016

When you do your creativity workshop with recent retirees, you might want to highlight some of these benefits to encourage them to get to know their “inner artist.”

2. Jill Weatherholt - March 7, 2016

The adult coloring books are a great way to reduce stress for me, and working jigsaw puzzles. The problem I have is finding the time…I guess I need to make it. 🙂

nrhatch - March 7, 2016

That reminds me of a wise Zen expression:

Meditate for an hour every day.
Unless you are too busy.
In that case meditate for two hours. :mrgreen:

Jill Weatherholt - March 7, 2016

Love it!

nrhatch - March 7, 2016

Here’s to getting “lost” in the NOW!

3. Under the Oaks - March 7, 2016

I am a fan of the adult coloring books. CH gifted me a couple for Christmas.

nrhatch - March 7, 2016

Do you use crayons, colored pencils, felt tip markers, or something else?

I have a white vase on my desk with a bouquet of colored pencils standing at the ready. A coloring book might be just the thing when I don’t feel like getting out painting supplies.

Under the Oaks - March 7, 2016

I bought cheap colored pencils until I knew I would stay with it. Now I would like some quality colored pencils. The crayons are hard to use in tight places. I love to go to art supply stores, but I have not one hint of artsy talent… 🙂 It relaxes me to wander around and smell the art supplies, same thing with outdoor bird goodies.

nrhatch - March 7, 2016

Me too! Art supplies are so ripe with POSSIBILITY!

4. William D'Andrea - March 7, 2016

As a creative writer, I have to agree with every one of those statements. I never feel more satisfied than when I’m writing something new. For me, writing a work of fiction is like a journey of exploration and discovery. Unfortunately, too often I discover that I am totally lost, or exploring the same territory I’ve been through many times before.

nrhatch - March 7, 2016

It’s great to be so immersed in a project that the rest of the world falls away.

William D'Andrea - March 8, 2016

Throughout my life, having my mind drifting into the fictional worlds that I’ve created, has been the most satisfying way of dealing with the stress that I’ve encountered in the real world.
However, when I return to the real world, the things which have caused me stress remain the same.
The worst was when I was going to school, and my mind drifted off, I was accused of daydreaming, which I was told can accomplish nothing. I have always been a daydreamer, and accomplished little, except for my writings; which very few people have purchased.
I’m now 70 years old, and I wonder if hiding in my fictional worlds, instead of dealing with troubles in the real one, has wasted my life.

nrhatch - March 8, 2016

Thought to ponder: If you’re enjoying yourself . . . is it wasted time?

5. suzicate - March 7, 2016

Yes! I say art is never wasted time or energy. Even if no one else gets it, the benefits are immeasurable to the artist.

nrhatch - March 7, 2016

Agreed! Here’s to enjoying that special flow that arises when we’re immersed in a creative endeavor.

6. Eric Tonningsen - March 7, 2016

If only I possessed an iota of artistic talent. 😦 Alas, I can live virtually through creative posts such as yours!

nrhatch - March 7, 2016

Thanks, Eric. Creating in the kitchen is FUN too . . . and you get to eat your endeavors. A win-win!

7. Eric Tonningsen - March 7, 2016

Hadn’t thought of what gets concocted in the kitchen as creative. Thanks for the awakening!

nrhatch - March 7, 2016

Cooking as a creative endeavor probably depends on “where the cook’s head is at” while chopping and dropping. And on whether they are following a recipe “to the letter” or giving themselves creative license to “mix and match.”

I find the kitchen to be a relaxing oasis whether I’m chopping carrots, choosing spices, or baking bread.

Of course, if I’m NOT in the mood to cook, it’s just KP Duty. :mrgreen:

8. Kate @ Did That Just Happen? - March 7, 2016

I love that art can come in so many different forms, so I can get the benefit even if it’s non-traditional!! Great post!

nrhatch - March 7, 2016

You’re the Poster Girl for Creativity in the Kitchen ~ you are not afraid to “mix it up”!

9. anotherday2paradise - March 7, 2016

I’m looking forward to being able to unpack my easel and paints. 🙂

nrhatch - March 7, 2016

That’ll be a FUN day for you, Sylvia.

I had dedicated studio space in our last house. Here my paints are packed away more often than not. But I like knowing they are there when I want them.

10. Patricia - March 7, 2016

It is interesting that our complex brains work better when stimulated by something as simple as the enjoyment of creating something.

nrhatch - March 7, 2016

Yes! Our brains need periodic breaks from churning thoughts and distractions ~ art is one way to “let go” while giving the brain a relaxing and meditative task.

11. Val Boyko - March 7, 2016

Life is art!🐥

nrhatch - March 7, 2016

Hmm . . . I’m not convinced that they’re synonymous. Not as used in this post, anyway. For example, Pablo Picasso’s quote would become: “Life washes from the soul the dust of every day life.”

Rather non-sensical. 😛

But I know what you mean, Val. Life is full of opportunities and possibilities to create “magic.”

nrhatch - March 7, 2016

I just went back and substituted “yoga” for “art” throughout the piece and didn’t run into any snags!

E.g., Yoga increases the “feel good” neurotransmitter, dopamine, which boosts drive, focus, and concentration. Dopamine helps ward off depression and protects the brain from aging.

Val Boyko - March 7, 2016

Yoga is life 🙃

12. JOriginal Muse - March 7, 2016

AND not to mention, the ART and CRAFT of writing 😉

nrhatch - March 7, 2016

Writing is a wonderful form of creative expression . . . but I also benefit when I “get away” from words for awhile and use different synapses to paint, cook, craft, play the guitar, etc..

JOriginal Muse - March 7, 2016

Absolutely…! Cooking, dancing, singing, and all of the above…

nrhatch - March 7, 2016

Yes! Having FUN every day keeps the blues at bay!.

13. NancyTex - March 7, 2016

I recently took up the new adult coloring book craze. I bought a book with very intricate mandala designs. I get completely lost in it when I’m doing it. Magical.

nrhatch - March 7, 2016

Sounds perfect, NT ~ a great stress reliever when you need to wind down!

Easy to pack up and take on business trips too. 😀

14. L. Marie - March 8, 2016

If only there were more than one like button! Great post! I totally agree! It makes me sad that art classes have been cut in some schools. Kids have more joy in the creation of art than with many other activities. I know I enjoy the creation process!

nrhatch - March 8, 2016

I’m glad we had Art, Gym, Recess, and Music growing up. All created “synapses” in my brain that I still enjoy using!!!

15. Carol Ferenc - March 8, 2016

It always feels great to be “in the zone” when I’m writing. Now if only I could overcome my fear of failure with the watercolors . . .

nrhatch - March 8, 2016

The best way to overcome your fear of failure with watercolors is to paint. And one way to get lots of practice is to buy a “Watercolor A Day” calendar ~ 365 sketches to paint over the course of the year with an example of what the final painting “could” (not “should”) look like.

It relieves you of the burden of deciding what to paint. You just grab a sketch and paint away.

And if you don’t like the end result, no biggie.

Carol Ferenc - March 8, 2016

I’ve never thought of that but it’s a great idea! I can see where it would eliminate the paralysis and allow me to get going. Thanks, Nancy, for a great post and great advice.

nrhatch - March 8, 2016

Eliminating the paralysis of deciding what to paint allows you to dive right in and ENJOY the process.

Painting is playing. Have FUN!

nrhatch - March 8, 2016

Here’s a few examples from my “blue period” ~ all but the last were from the WaterColor A Day Calendar. The last was free hand sketch I did after practicing.


Carol Ferenc - March 8, 2016

Oh, these are wonderful, Nancy! I especially love your colorful landscape. Now I feel inspired ~ thanks!

nrhatch - March 8, 2016

Yay! If you have FUN, you win . . . no matter how your painting turns out. Enjoy!

16. BunKaryudo - March 9, 2016

That’s good to know. Perhaps my doodling on the telephone counts for something after all. 🙂

nrhatch - March 9, 2016

It depends on what you’re doodling ~> #6 Art lets us forget our troubles and express our feelings. 😀

But art created while multi-tasking (e.g., talking on the phone) might not provide maximum benefits to the brain.

BunKaryudo - March 9, 2016

I think you’re certain to be right about that. In any case, I hate trying to multitask. I’d rather do one thing more or less properly than five things badly.

nrhatch - March 10, 2016

Doing “one thing at a time” works best for me . . . most of the time. Except that I always keep breathing, no matter what else I’m focused on. :mrgreen:

17. Debra - March 10, 2016

It made me happy just to read this, Nancy! I love to cultivate an artful spirit although I am not particularly artistic in my own talents. But I appreciate, and that brings me much joy!

nrhatch - March 11, 2016

After posting this, I read an article (“Color Me Calm”) which addressed de-stressing with adult coloring books. From the article:

“Immersion in this fun pastime even for just 30 minutes can constitute a focused meditation that relieves stress . . . and helps patients release anxiety.”

“It’s creative, portable and inexpensive. You never face blank paper because the lines are there; you just pick the colors. There’s no stress about possible making mistakes.”

And . . . March is Color Therapy Month. Who knew? 😛

18. Behind the Story - March 12, 2016

You found some beautiful quotes for this list: “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” ~ Albert Einstein and also: “Art washes from the soul the dust of every day life.” ~ Pablo Picasso

I’m glad we can have fun making art and at the same time benefit our brains.

nrhatch - March 12, 2016

I love those quotes! FUN is good for us!

19. A thank you for the creative ideas | Welcome to allaboutwordswa! - March 17, 2016

[…] Spirit Lights the Way […]

20. beeblu - March 24, 2016

Writing for fun at the end of a working week is my stress antidote. Love the Einstein quote.

nrhatch - March 25, 2016

Writing for fun is . . . FUN!
Playing with words expands my world.

And I agree . . . that Einstein quote is splendid.

21. Eileen - August 30, 2016

Wow! Back to the drawing board!

nrhatch - August 30, 2016


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