Brain Healthy Lifestyle: The Arts — Experiencing, Appreciating and Creating

Coconut Telegraph

SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING TUESDAY APR 21, 2020

As we enter another week of protecting and promoting brain health and fighting brain illness during COVID-19, your list of family activities may be running low. The Brain Health Initiative recommends engaging in creative experiences to reduce stress, increase your immune system, and help regulate emotions.

It turns out there's a lot of good stuff happening in our brains and bodies when we experience the arts. As we discussed last week, creativity in and of itself is important for boosting brain health and performance, for remaining healthy and fighting illness, and increasing your well-being. Whether observing, appreciating, or creating, the arts change our brains. The human brain is uniquely wired for the arts. The arts can make us happier, healthier, and smarter and can help amplify human potential. The arts are for everyone and extends to any type of creative expression: drawing, painting, collaging, sculpting clay, writing poetry, photography, cake decorating, knitting, scrapbooking, creating music, singing, dancing, performing, cooking, gardening, building a model, woodworking — the stars are the limit. Anything that engages your creative mind — the ability to make connections between unrelated things and imagining new ways of its being — is good for you, for your body and your brain.

There is an increasing amount of scientific evidence that demonstrates that the arts enhance brain function. For example, it has an impact on brain wave patterns, the nervous system, increases positive emotions, actually raising the level of serotonin (the hormone that helps to regulate mood, well-being and happiness, among other important functions).

The arts can change a person’s outlook and the way they experience the world across the lifespan. Regarding youth, decades of research have provided more than a sufficient amount of data to prove that arts education — to experience, appreciate and create — impacts everything from overall academic achievement, to school engagement, to social and emotional development, and so much more. For those of us who are more mature, the arts are a powerful and fun opportunity to optimize our cognitive skills and build our cognitive reserve and often bring the bonus of social engagement. Quite simply, the arts are invaluable to our brain development, maturation and aging, to enhancing brain health, to fighting brain illness and to optimizing functioning and performance individually and as a society.

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