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Mental Health Benefits of Viewing Art Will Surprise You

Updated: Mar 27, 2022

It’s no secret that art can really transform a room.

But what about your mood? There’s hard evidence that even just looking at art can have a positive impact on your mood and mental health. Here, we walk you through just four perks of viewing art (or, four more reasons to snatch up those art prints you’ve been eyeing).

1. Less Stress, Please

Chances are you or someone you know is more stressed than they should be. With heavy work loads, financial worries and, to be quite honest, our current political climate, how is one supposed to stop and take a breather? Well, one scientifically-backed solution is to take a moment to really look at art. Studies have shown that viewing and creating art, and participating in art therapy routines, decreased stress levels in participants. And it’s not hard to see why–have you SEEN Monet’s ethereal water lilies or Rothko’s all-encompassing color fields? Eternal bliss in my opinion.

2. A Moment of Relief

In a similar vein, science says viewing and creating art also helps alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. And while appreciating art alone is not an adequate form of managing how those conditions impact your life, it’s not a bad idea to surround yourself with art you love. Want more good news? These studies define art beyond the fine art you’d find in museums, which means creative endeavors like music, doodling and pottery are all your friends here.

3. More Brain Power

Looking at art puts your brain to work. Our brains are wired to pick out familiar patterns, extract meaning from anything we see and even make us feel immersed in an artwork. So whether you’re looking at a portrait photograph, an abstract painting or something that you’re not quite sure is even “art” (we’ve all been there), little neurons in your head are translating what you see into familiar forms and feels. And when you develop an emotional attachment to an image, you’re going to appreciate it that much more.

4. A Labor of Love

Speaking of feels, it’s time to get a little sappy. Have you ever fallen in l-o-v-e or felt butterflies in your stomach? What if I said you could get that high–we get a similar feeling when we take certain drugs, but I’m about to give you one better–when you look at art? Researchers in the UK have done just that, finding that looking at art we consider to be beautiful triggers the same pleasurable physical response as when we fall in love. Aww. It’s called dopamine, baby!

Another takeaway here is a foolproof decor tip on how to choose the right art for your space: go with what you love. It’s a simple piece of advice, but one people disregard all too often for fear of their tastes not being “good” or refined enough. Choose what you like, science says it’s good for you.

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