Four ways art is good for your health

By Kari Huizenga | November 04, 2020

Student looking at art exhibit
A visitor to the Schingoethe Center of Aurora University observes a collection of oil-on-canvas paintings from Illinois artist Mark Forth. The collection is a gift from the Capital Development Board Art-In Architecture Program, Illinois State Museum Collection.

Are you interested in lowering your stress levels? What about improving your mood? The answer could be as simple as doing a bit of meditative coloring.

Studies show that participating in artistic endeavors can have a positive impact on your health. The benefits from a wide range of creative activities — painting, writing, dancing, singing, digital art, and even cooking — are abundant. Even viewing an art collection online can lower anxiety and lift your spirits.

While the pandemic has made it more difficult to experience art, there are still plenty of ways to get a daily dose of creativity. Check out these four ways to boost your health by incorporating art into your daily life.

  1. Boost your critical thinking skills by visiting a virtual museum exhibit.

    Art has the power to promote lifelong learning. It keeps your mind active and reinforces creativity. When you explore an art gallery or museum, you engage in critical thinking, which helps to keep your brain healthy.

    The Schingoethe Center of Aurora University is featuring a series of virtual exhibitions, including “Art in the Time of Coronavirus,” and “The Virtual Curator,” that allow you to get a close look at local artists and their work, including art from several AU alumni.

    You can also travel to some of the most famous museums in the world without leaving home. Museums such as the Louvre, Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Latin American Art, and the National Museum of African Art, to name just a few, are offering online access to their exhibits with virtual tours and interactive photo galleries. Or explore Google Arts and Culture, where you can discover more than 2,000 museums and 100,000 artworks online.

  2. Decompress through meditative coloring.

    You don’t have to be an accomplished artist to benefit from creating a piece of art. A creative activity like coloring can serve as a form of meditation. It encourages focus, repetition, and can even relieve stress. All you need are some colored pencils and a piece of paper. For inspiration, check out Schingoethe Center’s Coloring Book website where you can download illustrations from AU student Steven Rusch ’20. The nine black and white drawings, ready to be colored, are inspired by artifacts from the Schingoethe Collection.

  3. Improve your mood by listening to your favorite music or watching a theatre performance.

    Research shows that listening to music you love can have a positive influence on your mood. When you are feeling down, put on your headphones, and enjoy a song that makes you smile.

    And even though theatres and stages around the world have gone dark as a result of the pandemic, many performing arts groups are making productions available free online.

    The Metropolitan Opera is hoping to brighten the lives of opera lovers by making available free streaming performances from the past 14 years of cinema transmissions, starring some of the greatest opera singers.

    If plays and musicals are what bring you joy, you can experience the magic of the theatre from your television and computer. Just in time for the holidays, the Goodman in Chicago is featuring free audio streaming of Charles Dickens’ "A Christmas Carol" every night in December. Or, if you have a Disney Plus subscription, you can watch award-winning Broadway musicals like "Hamilton" and "Newsies."

  4. Connect with your friends at an online art workshop.

    Art can be more meaningful when we experience it together. Improve your social health by integrating art into quality time spent with your loved ones. The Schingoethe Center is offering a variety of events and activities this semester to help you stay connected, even during the pandemic.

    Every month, AU students can register for online Art Space workshops to make fun crafts and socialize with friends or participate in weekly conversations with artists during Zoom @ Noon.