Art tends to be undervalued as a whole in society — which is surprising when you consider how essential it is to our overall well-being. Countless studies have proven the healing power of art in hospitals and its ability to increase productivity and reduce anxiety in work environments. Let’s take a closer look at some of the health benefits of art, the positive impact it has on our lives, and why it’s so important to make art a priority.
Art Rewards the Brain
Did you know that your brain is actually programmed to equate a piece of artwork with a reward? One study found that when participants viewed artwork by famous artists, the “reward system” in their brains was strongly activated (more so than when they viewed photographs of similar subjects!). While photography can certainly have a positive effect on the way we feel, paintings produce an even greater response in the brain. In addition to the “reward system” component of the brain (known as the ventral striatum) that was activated, the hypothalamus and the orbitofrontal cortex were also activated when participants viewed the work of famous painters. That means that the parts of the brain that are associated with appetite regulation, impulse control, calculating risk, and detecting social rules all lit up when people viewed beautiful pieces of artwork.
Art Relieves Stress
Art design can play an immensely important part in stress relief. That’s just one reason why artwork can be found in many healthcare facilities and office environments. Too much stress can make it much harder for you to get work done and can be harmful to the body — so of course officials and business owners want to do everything they can to reduce it. Many studies have shown how the health benefits of art include stress reduction, including one that found participants had lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) after spending just 35 minutes in an art gallery. If you’re looking for a way to reduce workplace stress or make patients feel more at ease, you may want to pay close attention to your art selection.
Art Promotes Healing
There are other reasons why hospital wall art is so popular. One of these reasons is that art can actually help patients heal. Reducing stress can speed up healing times, as can providing a distraction from pain and a mental escape. By encouraging people in hospitals, nursing homes, doctors’ offices, and other healthcare facilities to think positively and focus on a pleasant image, these individuals may actually be able to speed up their healing times and overall experience. It’s no accident that countless facilities are embracing the health benefits of art as a supplement to traditional treatment.
Art Makes Us More Creative
It makes sense that creativity begets creativity; being surrounded by artistic pieces allows us to be inspired and feel more artistic ourselves. The creative stimulation provided by many types of art allows workers to think freely and contribute new ideas that can help businesses succeed. In addition, art can actually make us more productive; not only can it reduce stress, but it can re-energize us in ways that a cup of coffee can’t quite accomplish. So if you’re feeling stunted or stuck, adding some art could be your answer.
Art Allows Us to Feel Love
In general, art makes us feel joyful. In addition to the stimulation of the “reward center” we mentioned earlier, art actually makes us feel happier too. It’s scientifically proven. We experience increased blood flow and a more rapid heartbeat when we’re in love. That causes the brain to release feel-good hormones that make us feel joyful. Studies have shown that viewing art actually produces those same effects. In fact, it increases blood flow by as much as 10% in those key parts of the brain, which makes us feel similarly to when we look at someone we love. That’s pretty incredible.
The health benefits of art are well understood — but not everyone understands why art should be included in their business plan. With all of the amazing effects art can have on patients, customers, employees, and other individuals who are essential to your organization’s success, there’s no reason not to be surrounded by art.