The art of healing

What comes to mind when you think about the inside of a hospital? If it’s plain, white walls and gloomy fluorescent lights, you may be surprised when you step inside one of Northern Light Health’s new rural hospitals.

At Northern Light CA Dean Hospital, patients and visitors are greeted by a 40-foot-long donor wall featuring a sweeping image of beautiful Moosehead Lake and the surrounding mountains. Every patient room contains a unique photograph taken by a local photographer that highlights the beauty and history of the region. Scenes include local lakes and ponds, downtown Greenville, and the beloved historic Steamboat Katahdin.

While the photographs add to the soothing, welcoming environment in the hospital, studies suggest that they may also help with healing. A Clemson University study found that nature images relieved stress and pain and lowered blood pressure in a simulated hospital patient room. Several other studies have found a connection between visual art and patients’ health and wellbeing.

The benefits of art on wellbeing extend outside of the hospital, too. A study conducted by a Drexel University art therapy researcher found that creating visual art reduced levels of cortisol, the body’s main stress hormone. The benefits of drawing, painting, and other expressions of art were found to be substantial for everyone, including those who had little experience with creating art.

Whether find yourself in a healthcare setting or just need to relieve some stress at home, consider the role that art can play in your wellbeing. Enjoy the beautiful photos in your local hospital, or try your hand at coloring, working with clay, or taking photographs of your own. It’s a fun and easy step that you can take to improve your wellness.