the benefits of expressive arts for adults
As part of our fall/winter line-up of program offerings, we launched Expressive Arts with Seniors last month. While the program is designed to be a communal space for seniors, we welcomed a few younger participants to share the inaugural class. The diverse group of attendees enjoyed a beautiful intergenerational experience as they bonded over artistic techniques, stories, and laughter.
Growing up, many of us may have endeavored in art in one form or another. Perhaps it was a mandatory arts and crafts hour in school, or building with lego blocks. But as we got older, the notion of what art is became more formal, and some of us may have begun thinking that it is something exclusive for those who are artistic. However, at Equinimity, we believe that art is for everyone. It's not about creating a masterpiece. As Kathy Sawyer, Equinimity's Program Manager said, "[Art] is not about the outcome - it's about the process."
Connecting Through Art
After months of isolation due to COVID-19, most of us appreciate social gatherings more than ever and how important it is to be present for our friends and family. Unfortunately, even before the pandemic, isolation and loneliness are common challenges for elderly adults. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine reported that nearly one-fourth of adults aged 65 and older are socially isolated. The report also found that immigrants, minorities, and LGBTQIA+ populations experience loneliness more often than other groups.
As a way to foster connection and promote a strong sense of community, Equinimity launched its Expressive Arts program, along with other group offerings. By creating together, we hope to give participants a fun and relaxing time, and, most importantly, a meaningful communal experience.
The Benefits of Expressive Arts
Besides improving social bonds, studies have found that engaging in expressive arts has many benefits. Here are some of them:
- Reduces stress, anxiety and depression - Fighting anxiety, depression or emotional trauma can be stressful both mentally and physically. Creating art can be used to relieve stress and relax the mind and the body as you focus on the activity at hand. Whether it's music, dance, painting or storytelling, focusing on creative activities can take you to a place of ease and relaxation. The National Endowment for the Arts found that seniors who participate in creative arts experience lower levels of depression and are more positive in general.
- Improves Cognitive Function - The American Academy of Neurology found that people who participate in artistic and social activities in mid-life and late-life have a reduced risk of cognitive impairment. When seniors learn new art forms and participate in activities where they are challenged to be resourceful and think creatively, their thinking skills are enhanced, making it easier to make quick neural connections that may have been lost due to aging.
- Boosts Self-Esteem - Sometimes, you can surprise yourself with what you're able to accomplish. Thinking creatively and finding innovative ways to complete a project can instill a sense of confidence. In our Expressive Arts program, working in a collaborative, group environment where knowledge-sharing is encouraged and celebrated, participants know that they are valued members of the group.
- Enhances Fine Motor Skills - Research shows that mind-body activities, such as drawing and painting, help strengthen hands and promote fine-motor skills as it requires the use of fingers, hands, wrists and arms in handling different tools and objects of different shapes. Art activities can also improve muscle coordination, enhance blood flow and build better dexterity over time.
While we can only hope that our Expressive Arts program generates all these benefits, what we can guarantee is a safe and enjoyable space to create and connect with one another. If you are interested in joining us, please click here for more information and to register.
We hope to see you soon!