More and more is becoming known about how a healthy lifestyle can help you live longer. And to be honest, sometimes that is quite a challenge: according to the most recent studies, you should eat thirty different types of fruit and vegetables per week for the optimal effect. Get on it (financially).
Fortunately, there are also other ways to invest in healthy aging. Professor Susan Magsamen, executive director of the International Arts + Minds Laboratory, Center for Applied Neuroaesthetics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, wrote the book Your Brain on Art, which shows that being artistic – you don’t have to be good at it – works excellently to reduce stress, suffer less from physical and mental problems and helps to keep learning, even when you are a bit older.
Art as a stress buster
Magsamen and her co-author Yvy Ross analyzed major studies on the relationship between healthy brains and art and found that spending 45 minutes on art — coloring, dancing, painting, drawing, listening to music, pottery, crafting — lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol. and can help lead a happier and healthier life.
Magic between art and brain
Her specific area of study is called neuroaesthetics or neuroarts and is about how art affects the brain. In her book, she tells the story of a man with Alzheimer’s who, after listening to a playlist of songs he used to love, recognized his son for the first time in ten years.
Emotion as a trigger
“The music triggers multiple pathways in the brain that stimulate the parts that control sound, emotion, and memory,” she says. “When you listen to nostalgic music, it not only activates the hippocampus, but also other parts of the brain that also link to memory and memories, which are not damaged. The stronger the emotion that art evokes, the better you learn and remember. ”
How do you apply this in daily life, to stay cheerful and lively in the upper room?
- Take half an hour or three quarters of an hour a day for an artistic activity (it does not have to be continuous, it is also allowed in tufts).
- Humming and singing are very effective, as is a playlist with only songs that make you happy.
- Read poetry, read books, listen to audiobooks, let yourself be carried away by the story.
- Choose immersive experiences: walk through an exhibition with headphones with explanation, choose things that stimulate light, sound and image: the more senses are stimulated, the better.
- If you are in a museum or gallery, don’t try to take it all in, but choose a work of art that touches you in some way and let it sink in completely.
- Needlework, embroidery, modeling, braiding, sewing, clay: you don’t have to win prizes with it, as long as you enjoy it.
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