"Mental Health" Monday

Pick Up The PaintBrush: Why You Should Challenge Your Brain Through Artistic Expression!

F_2014_10_Art.jpgJust like we may strive to eat healthy and exercise to keep up our physical fitness, it’s equally important to exercise our brains. It’s not as hard as it sounds, and it’s definitely not as grueling as the stair-master at Archbold!

In fact, all you have to do is find your individually suited, creative outlet to work those brain cells. Everyone has their own preferences for artistic expression, but the most important thing to note is that you do not have to be Mozart or Picasso to benefit from the following activities:

  • Expressive writing: poetry, journaling, story writing, etc.
  • Visual arts: painting, drawing, coloring, etc.
  • Movement: all forms of dance!
  • Music: playing an instrument, singing, rapping, etc.
  • Miscellaneous: knitting, cooking or baking, gardening—you name it.

Besides the obvious appeal to this variety of artistic expressions (that they’re a lot of fun!) they can provide amazing benefits for our mental wellbeing that are associated primarily with the process of the activity and not necessarily the finished product!

It Helps With Stress relief

You know how yoga can relax your muscles and allow you to concentrate on your breathing? Think of writing, or painting, or even dancing as yoga for the brain. Both acts encourage a sense of mindfulness, which is being consciously aware of oneself in the present moment.

This state of mind gives us a distraction from the thousands of thoughts that usually run through our minds during the school day. Taking the time to stretch the mind allows us to concentrate, relax, and become enveloped in the natural high it produces. It will also help improve memory later!


It Increases in Brain Connectivity

Every time we engage in these creative acts, our brain creates new connections between brain cells. In turn, communication between different parts of the brain becomes enhanced, keeping our brains sharp and more efficient at problem solving. How amazing is it that doing things we love can keep our brain healthy? We just have to make sure to make the time for it!


It Improves Your Mood

This one is mainly common sense: the more we do the things that we love, especially partaking in our favorite creative hobbies, the happier we feel. Artistic expression can even act as a sort of therapy when we’re having relationship issues, stressing over academics, or even when we are simply trying to understand the inconsistencies of Syracuse weather. When in doubt, start creating!


It Boosts Self-Esteem

Whether you decide to submit a piece of writing or art to one of SU’s student magazines, share home-made cupcakes with friends, knit a hat for your Mom, or simply keep your art to yourself, be proud of what you’ve created. Expressing oneself helps to maintain positive identity, which makes us— and our brain—happy and healthy.!


These artistic acts are enjoyable and relaxing for so many individuals, because they allow us to express our emotional states in different forms that may otherwise be emotionally or physically difficult to convey.  As Pablo Picasso once said “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life,” and life can get pretty stressful and “dusty” as the semester picks up before finals! So on your off-day from the gym (or if every day is an off-day…no shame!), take a moment to explore your artistic side and give your brain a good workout!

By: Laurie Thompson