It has been well documented that our environment has a tremendous impact on our mental health.
Whether you live in a grey, northerly climate or Yuma, Arizona where the sun shines 98% of the time can dramatically impact how you feel about yourself and those around you.
Living in the city versus living the country, working in an office overlooking a lake or crammed in a cubicle can also impact your mental well-being. But, what impact does artwork have on health, if any?
There is an expanding body of evidence supporting the effects of choosing the “appropriate” artwork in hospitals. According to experts in the field of architecture and healthcare systems and design, studies demonstrate that art can hasten recovery, decrease hospital stays and reduce pain.
However, not just any art will help with healing. Paintings of landscapes, familiar objects and happy faces can significantly reduce blood pressure and heart rate while colorless, abstract art actually increases blood pressure and heart rate.
A recent study compared two types of artwork and the impact that it had on patients. The first group of art contained images of lush landscapes, water, emotionally expressive pictures of people and cultural artifacts. The second group contained abstract images. Images from the first group were clearly the favorite among study participants.
According to study leaders, most people in the real world prefer familiar art to abstract or ambiguous artwork which appears to provoke anxiety. The thought is that most people identify with familiar art, which tends to allow for the expression of human feelings.
The concept of art and health has become so popular that actual companies are forming to advise health centers on their choice of art. One such company is Healthcare Art Consulting in Dallas, Texas. According to representatives from the company, there has been an increase in clinical and academic research supporting the importance of art choices in health-serving facilities.
A wing at the Baylor Medical Center in Irving, Texas recently removed dull and outdated art and replaced it with nature paintings with inspirational quotes every 25 feet along a corridor, where patients recovering from hip and knee surgeries are motivated to move.
Artwork has also been used in places that serve patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia. In one center, four hallways each have a different theme and artwork to match. This helps patients remember where they are and serves to keep them engaged in their present surroundings. Pictures are also made of different materials that encourage the senses.
While sterile, white hallways and patient care rooms may radiate cleanliness, they are not much for reducing anxiety or promoting healing. Although a piece of art cannot stitch a wound together, it can, in fact, help speed healing by reducing stress and promoting an overall sense of well-being.
How does the artwork in your home make you feel?
-The Alternative Daily