By now you probably know that art is a huge passion of mine. We all have things that we love to immerse ourselves in. But making art can have a positive psychological effect on all of us. Here are a few reasons why:

1. Viewing art makes you happier

Have you ever just looked at a painting and felt exhilarated or emotionally moved? There’s a reason why! According to Dr. Cathy Malchiodi of Psychology Today, viewing art leads to the increase of dopamine and activity within the brain’s frontal cortex. It actually gives you a similar feeling to experiencing romantic love. And these positive effects occur almost immediately.

2. Repetitive art making can relieve anxiety and depression

If you are anxious or depressed, making art repetitively can help. How, you ask? It stimulates the “accumbens-striatial-cortical” connection in the brain. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls this phenomenon “flow”, an experience of complete concentration and absorption. It gives you the same feelings that you get from meditation and yoga.

3. Immersing yourself in art helps you to live better

I previously mentioned “flow.” “Flow” is an aspect of positive psychology. According to positive psychology, there are five critical elements to psychological well-being. They are engagement, meaning, accomplishment, positive relationships, and positive emotion. This means that the key to happiness is immersing yourself in an activity that you care about, taking pride in something that you are good at, caring about others and having them care about you, and having a feeling of being linked to something bigger than yourself. Making art helps you fulfill a number of these aspects.

4. It helps you connect with your emotions

While concentrating on making art may allow you to forget about your problems, there is a chance it may do the opposite. And that’s not necessarily such a bad thing! Creating art often helps us delve into the subconscious parts of our mind. It also helps us express emotions that we know we have but can’t put a voice to. This makes us more in touch with ourselves and our emotions.

So how can you use this in your everyday life? What are some easy ways to live better from art?

1. Go to a museum or gallery.

If looking at art releases dopamine in the brain, then why not give your brain what it wants? Many galleries are free! This also allows you to be immersed in your community and can increase your emotional intelligence.

2. Go to a Paint Night.

Even if you don’t typically think of yourself as an artist, there are plenty of ways to show your creative side. One of these ways is going to Paint Nights. You have an instructor so you can learn to paint in the company of your family or friends. And you can grab a drink while you’re there too!

3. Get an adult coloring book

Sure, coloring books are not considered the most sophisticated forms of art in the world, but adult coloring books are proven to reduce anxiety. Coloring puts us in an almost meditative state in which we shut off our minds and focus on the task at hand.

4. Go to a pottery class

If painting and drawing aren’t your things, why not go for something three-dimensional! Clay wheel throwing is a lot of fun, and you end up with something you’ve created to take home. The item you make can even be put to good use.

Art is extremely therapeutic. Art therapy has been used to help those who are dealing with a cancer diagnosis as well as those with PTSD. But even if you don’t have a clinical problem, anyone can benefit psychologically from art. So go ahead and pick up a paintbrush or colored pencil and show your artistic side!