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A recent survey on people in retirement has found that three of the top hobbies enjoyed by seniors are artistic pursuits—photography, painting, and drawing. Art has a unique ability to get your creative juices flowing while also encouraging you to head outside to find interesting subjects for your artworks. This hobby has deeper benefits, of course. Read on to discover what they are and to find out why it makes no difference if you are an absolute beginner or Picasso himself.

Art vs Depression and Anxiety

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Over two million people in the US aged 65 and older have some type of depression. The latter can be spurred on by concurrent illnesses, widowhood, and the difficulties involved with meeting healthcare and other costs. Anxiety is also common in this age group, affecting around 10% to 20% of seniors. Art can help with both of these conditions. A study published in the journal The Arts in Psychotherapy found that seniors who made art with the materials of their choice three times a week for one month improved significantly in terms of anxiety and self-esteem. Another study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, meanwhile, showed that visual art-making (including pottery, painting, and more) enjoyed better mental health and enhanced their ability to appreciate Nature.

 What if You’ve Never Made Art Before?

Just in case you thought that only those with a ‘talent’ for art could benefit from artistic creation, think again. Girija Kaimal and colleagues published a study in Art Therapy that shows the contrary. Art lowers levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, among absolute beginners and experienced artists equally. Don’t think that you have to limit your creations to drawings of basic shapes, either. There are so many online resources teaching you to sketch wildlife like birds, frogs, insects, you name it. A bird is particularly easy to draw, for instance. You start off with a circle joined to a semi-oblong shape (to represent the face and body) then add a few details to represent the beak, tail, wings, and the like. In just a few minutes, you can create an artwork you can embellish with paint, glitter, collage materials, and more.

Art as Part of a Creative Way of Living

Seniors by no means should limit themselves to painting and drawing exclusively. Numerous studies have shown that other means of creativity—including movement and music, collage making, acting, making murals, and other creative pursuits are all beneficial. Group art or collaborative projects are a particularly powerful way to combine the benefits of art with those of building supportive networks. By taking part in community art, dancing, acting, or musical projects, seniors can feel connected with people who share a passion for creative pursuits.

Artistic creation has been found to be beneficial to seniors. It improves their mental health, helping to battle stress, anxiety, and depression. Art is also a medium through which seniors can make new friends and find those who share passions that can range from music right through to acting.