The Healing Power of the Arts
Researchers are finding that treatment and recovery can be enhanced by factors that don't include medical school training and pharmaceutical ingenuity.
As it turns out, making time for the practice of the arts can help you recover from a variety of ailments, and may help keep you healthy and safe from future complications.
In May of last year, researchers at the University of Granada in Spain found that music therapy — listening to soothing music while practicing relaxation techniques such as slow, deep breathing — could improve the quality of life for patients battling the chronic pain of fibromyalgia. The patients slept better, suffered less anxiety, and reported that their pain was less than a group who didn’t use music therapy. A 2008 study of people with depression found that music therapy combined with standard treatment (antidepressant medication and counseling) dramatically improved the likelihood that the patients would feel better.
Cancer patients can also benefit from adding some music to their lives. Researchers at the University of Rochester in New York found that patients with leukemia, lymphoma, and solid tumors who underwent a bone marrow transplant experienced far less pain and nausea when they took advantage of music therapy. Remarkably, the new bone marrow took hold much faster for the patients practicing music therapy.
Art therapy is another promising area of treatment. Hospital’s such as Northern Westchester now offer patients the opportunity to select the images that hang in their room during a stay; more and more healing centers provide the chance for patients to produce their own masterpieces, as well. This is more than a nice notion: Researchers at a Texas A&M University have found that patients have lower blood pressure, less anxiety, and higher measures of immunity — plus shorter recovery times — when they have art hanging in their room.
When you’re checking into a hospital, ask about the arts programs they offer — and be sure to take advantage of them. Whether you listen to music or join a drum circle, choose the art that decorates walls of your room or pick up a paintbrush, your stay will be more pleasant and your recovery smoother by taking advantage of the arts.
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