When you think about painting and arts and crafts, it may transport you back in time to the best parts of elementary school. But creativity and art aren't just for kids. Adults — especially senior citizens and veterans — can also get in on the fun while reaping the many health benefits of art.

4 Benefits of Art for Mental Health and Well-Being

No matter how old you are, expressing yourself through art can help improve your mental health and overall sense of well-being. Keep reading to learn about four ways that art helps with mental health.

Blank canvas, paint and paint brushes
Photo by Kelli Tungay / Unsplash

1. Lowers Stress Levels

Creating art has been shown to lower your body's cortisol levels — a hormone released when you feel stressed. Lower cortisol levels, in turn, reduce the amount of stress you feel and can make stress easier to manage.

2. Boosts Your Self-Esteem

For many people who struggle with low self-esteem, taking on new projects or hobbies can feel pointless and doomed to fail. But painting and other art forms can boost your self-esteem; it just feels good to see the fruits of your labor come together in a beautiful and personal expression of creativity.

3. Sharpens Reasoning Skills

No painting ever goes perfectly without a single mistake. But that's okay — discovering and handling these little mistakes and challenges can sharpen your reasoning and problem-solving skills.

4. Eases Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression

Painting has also been shown to stimulate the release of dopamine. Dopamine is a powerful neurotransmitter that plays a significant role in your overall mood. When dopamine is released, your body interprets this stimulus as pleasurable, instantly lifting your spirits and putting you in a better mood.

How Does Art Therapy Help Veterans?

Creative arts therapies can help veterans cope with both physical and mental health issues.

Back of veteran saluting
Photo by sydney Rae / Unsplash

Physical Rehabilitation

Painting can help veterans with injuries or limited mobility improve their motor control and aid their rehabilitation. That's not to say painting is a cure for physical injuries, but it can make the road to recovery a little smoother and a lot more fun.

Processing Trauma

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is common in the veteran community. Veteran art therapy has proven to be a powerful tool in working through trauma that is difficult to verbalize.

Why Is Art Important?

Denae Manion, a Paint Nite host, learned firsthand how important art is while helping care for her grandfather with Alzheimer's.

Paint Nite artist Denae Manion

Denae's Story

One day, I sat down with my grandpa, who hadn't recognized me in months, and I was painting a Paint Nite piece. I was painting a peacock painting, where you paint the body last, so all the buildup was just a fan of pretty colors.
He had been pretty quiet recently, but as soon as I began to paint, he remembered some stories about his teaching days. It was one of the last times I really got to reminisce with him.
Throughout the painting, he kept saying, "I'm not sure that's a bird," and poking fun at other things. As I was adding the body at the end of the painting, he remarked, "Well, by golly, that is a peacock. That's pretty good work. You know, my granddaughter is an artist, too. But I think she's a little bit better than you."
We both laughed, and I will always remember that moment. Even though his own brain had betrayed him, he still knew me. He remembered me even if he didn't recognize me. It was a great memory to make and hold onto. After that, making art would help calm him and soothe his unrest after he fell into further decline.
After his passing, I took up the world of therapeutic art. I worked for two years in an Alzheimer's ward, where I used the same kind of art therapy I tapped into with my grandfather. Then, I went on to teach Paint Nite at our local veteran's hospital. It is truly inspiring to see these senior citizens and combat veterans let out all their creative angst, and it just goes to show that art is for everyone — especially our veterans!

If you're in or around Celilo, Oregon, make sure you check out Denae's events.

Give the Gift of Creativity

If you have a veteran in your life, consider giving the gift of fun and creativity this holiday season with a Paint Nite Pass. We offer vouchers for a single class or multiple.

If you have questions about our vouchers or events, don't hesitate to reach out to us today.