Art can be a rewarding pursuit at any age, but it may be especially worthwhile for seniors. From lifting your mood and encouraging playfulness to improving your concentration, expressing yourself artistically can deliver a multitude of surprising benefits. So, regardless of whether you're an accomplished artist or a casual doodler, here are seven compelling reasons why you may want to consider keeping — and using — a sketchbook.
Even if you've never picked up a charcoal stick or a paintbrush before, it's not too late to take up a creative pursuit. By picking up a sketchbook and related art supplies, you can open yourself up to a world of self-expression and potentially reap the physical and mental health benefits listed below.
If you love to doodle, you might be surprised at how beneficial random scribbling can be. Doodling can help you stay focused, and it may even improve your recall if you simultaneously listen and doodle.
Tip: When you're on a call with your financial advisor or family physician, consider opening up your sketchbook and doodling. Whether you doodle spirals, crosshatches or geometric shapes, you may find you're better able to concentrate, so you can retain more details of the conversation.
Art can be a gateway to emotional release, letting you process complex thoughts and feelings without having to put them into words. By keeping a sketchbook handy, you're giving yourself a healthy outlet to express your emotions, which can help relieve stress and improve your overall mood. Studies also suggest that the act of art-making or doodling may evoke positive emotions and encourage a sense of humor.
Tip: To create a habit of regular self-expression, consider using your sketchbook for art journaling. This process, which requires nothing more than paper and a pen, involves creating a visual diary of your memories, thoughts and emotions using words or images. And, if you don't feel like drawing, go ahead and cut out (or print) images and words and paste them onto the page.
We don't often think of art as a physical activity, but the practice of sketching and drawing exercises the hands, arms and fingers. When done regularly, this can increase blood flow to these extremities, often improving muscle coordination and resulting in better fine motor skills and dexterity.
Tip: For a fun way to exercise your hands and fingers, try finger-painting. It can be a great alternative for seniors who have trouble holding pencils or small paintbrushes.
If you think there's nothing new to discover about yourself, you might be surprised. When you open a sketchbook and draw, you can gain helpful insights into your hopes, strengths, values, needs and emotions. Plus, by discovering more about yourself, you may open a pathway to building better relationships with family and your friends here in Thornton, Colorado.
Tip: To promote self-exploration and discovery, try creating artwork inspired by dreams you've had or sketch images that represent your deepest values and beliefs. Alternately, cut out pictures and words that resonate with you to create a collage.
Because art places your focus on creation and away from any physical ailments, it may provide a welcome source of pain relief for some seniors. Plus, because art often helps us relax, it may relieve the anxiety and stress that can accompany pain so you can more easily manage the pain you do have. So, consider reaching for your sketchbook when you're feeling pain. It may provide a welcome distraction.
Tip: Enhance the potential pain-relieving benefits of art by choosing soothing colors or exploring a fun new technique such as watercolor painting.
Although the Park Regency Thornton provides residents with a full complement of services, activities and amenities to keep seniors engaged, a sketchbook may be a great way to add mental stimulation to your routine. Because you can leave your sketchbook conveniently on a desk or nightstand, you can reach for it when the desire to create strikes you. Plus, because art can lead to new neural pathways in the brain, it may improve overall cognitive function.
Tip: To maximize the cognitive benefits of art, experiment with different mediums, such as watercolors, pastels and even crayons.
Neurologists suggest that creative abilities can flourish in your senior years. Exploring a new craft can give you a sense of control, nurture your spirituality and foster your self-identity, ultimately leading to feelings of accomplishment.
Tip: Try out different techniques. You may discover a talent that you never knew you had.
Whether you hope to reap the mental health benefits of self-expression or you just want to indulge your creative side, a sketchbook is an affordable way to explore the world of art. Small wire-bound sketch pads, which are the perfect size for a nightstand, often cost less than $10.
Even better, sketchbooks are versatile. Many work with mixed media such as charcoal, crayons, colored pencils, soft pastels and watercolors. So, whether you prefer to indulge in quiet, reflective drawing in your assisted living suite or you head down to the Park Regency Thornton's creative arts room for a more social art experience, a sketchbook is a simple way to enrich your assisted living experience.