The Healing Power of Art

I’ve been thinking about the power of art lately and how it affects people.  If we learned anything from the pandemic lockdown, it is that our home is our foundation – our refuge as well as our living and Zoom space.  And how you decorate your space can affect your mood and well-being.  Art has become even more important now that we are spending more time in smaller spaces.

Art inspires, challenges, relaxes, uplifts

It can transport you to a specific memory of a place you’ve been or honor the memory of a beloved person or fur friend. It can evoke the exuberance of a Spring day, or evoke a restful, restorative mood. It can make you smile…or even laugh.

I was surprised when I read about a study that found looking at art increases blood flow to the brain by 10%, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.  When art stirs your emotions, you feel a shift in your emotions – and from a scientific perspective, a shift in emotions indicates a physiological change of some kind.

Who needs Prozac when you can look at paintings of flowers?!



There are times when people do need chemical intervention 

I went through a period during my mid-twenties when I had an existential crisis and fell into a deep depression.  Colors faded, sounds became harsh and food lost its flavor. I lost 15 lbs in 2 weeks and couldn’t sleep.  When I finally went to see a doctor, I was given an anti-depressant and within a few weeks, I was much better.  I remember waking up one morning and I saw all the colors of the trees outside my window. They were vivid and beautiful–  and I knew I was reconnected with the vibrancy of life again.  One of the first places I went with my newly rediscovered sense of color was the art museum and I spent a whole afternoon absorbing Monet’s paintings, really savoring his appreciation of light.

Science confirms healing effect

Studies from the CU-Berkeley back up my experience of revitalization. Dr. Dacher Keltner put it this way: “That awe, wonder and beauty promote healthier levels of cytokines suggests that the things we do to experience these emotions – a walk in Nature, losing oneself in music, beholding art – has a direct influence on health and life expectancy.” Other studies have noticed lower stress levels and lowered inflammation markers , all suggesting that spending time looking at beautiful artwork is valuable as a tool for maintaining mental health.

So, surround yourself with art

In addition to hanging pieces in your living room, put artwork in unexpected places like your laundryroom (especially if you hate doing laundry) or the kitchen – anywhere you want a little extra joy.  Your mental health may depend on it!

Click on any of the artwork in this blog post to buy it for your home.

Please leave a comment!  I'd love to hear how art in your home has impacted you during this time.