The Amazing Healing Powers of Art

Feel instantly calmer — and boost your brain health — with these creative ideas

older couple playing with clay

When you listen to a soothing song, see a beautiful painting, or pick up a paintbrush, you might feel calmer or inspired. But, are you also aware that the art you’re absorbing or creating is making you healthier?

That’s because you’re experiencing a heightened state of mindfulness. “Being aware of your feelings and behaviors while doing art can allow for a deep emotional release,” says Katie Ziskind, a licensed marriage and family therapist. The benefits aren’t just emotional. Studies have found that creating art like crafts and paintings helps to reduce the risk of developing certain brain diseases, while also giving problem-solving skills a big boost.  Try these 4 creative, calming ideas to get started:

older woman listening to musicListen to music Listening to just one song per day can give your mood a boost. Ziskind suggests playing a song from your favorite album. Pay attention to how your body responds. How does the music feel in your ears? What do the lyrics mean to you? Having something to focus on is an easy way to understand what it means to be mindful and can help you do so in other situations moving forward. 

woman playing with clayPlay with clay “Even simply holding clay or Play-Doh can be really positive,” says Ziskind. She notes it can help keep you focused and present. Start by moving the clay or Play-Doh around in your hands. Take note of the fragrances you smell or sensations you feel. 

doodleStart doodling Anyone can draw a doodle — even if you’re not artistic. The next time you find yourself in a waiting room, get out a pad and paper and start to scribble. Take note of how it feels to glide your pen across the paper, the sound the pen makes, and how it feels when you reach your result. 

Older couple looking at artLook at art Take a trip to a nearby museum to see an exhibit. “Soak in the colors, textures, and emotions of other people’s art,” Ziskind advises. Art books can also help in making you more mindful. Plus, you can take them with you and view them whenever you have some downtime. 


4 apps that enhance mindfulness 

No time for an art class or museum trip? No problem. All you need is a smartphone and a few minutes in the day to reap the healing benefits of heightened awareness. 

AURA Use daily meditation sessions to relieve tension. The app tracks your progress over time. Free for android and ios.

SMILING MIND Bring balance in as little as 10 minutes with content tailored to your mood. Free for android and ios.

STOP, BREATHE & THINK More than 40 guided meditations help you tune in to your feelings and boost compassion. Free for android and ios.

INSIGHT TIMER Learn a new skill through meditations ranging from relationships to leadership. Free for android and ios.