Do you turn to your cellphone whenever you have a moment to spare? You are not alone if waiting for a “Don’t Walk” sign to turn into a “Walk” sign is a trigger to check your device.
Email, Facebook and Instagram are certainly seductive. The problem is how they hijack your brain and steal time away from reflection and focus. Research tells us how important downtime is for learning, memory and creativity. Carving out time for experiences that clear your head is essential.
Spending time in nature is one way to give your brain a break. For urban dwellers who don’t have quick access to trees, visiting an art museum might be just what the doctor ordered.
In Religion for Atheists, Alain de Botton argues how art museums are more than places to look at pretty things. They foster a sense of community, they enhance appreciation of beauty, they expose viewers to different ways of thinking and, last but not least, they provide a sacred space to slow down.
A study in a Swiss art museum tracked brain activity and stress markers (like blood pressure and heart rate) in volunteers. Results indicate viewing art can physically and mentally relieve stress. Related research shows how art stimulates the brain in a way that makes you feel good. Original artworks in a hospital environment are linked with reduction in length of stay, decreased anxiety, reduction in use of some medications and increased staff morale.
Have a spoonful of art and I’ll see you in the morning.
Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.