Going to a Museum = Anxiety relief?

As we navigate through anxiety there are places along the journey that we find respite. Maybe you have a favorite beach location, a park you like to walk in, a game you like to play, a food you like to eat. How about a museum? It never occurred to me that it might be a way to relieve anxiety but according to an article I found here ,it might.

From the article: “Art museums have great potential to positively impact people, including reducing their stress, enhancing positive emotional experiences, and helping people to feel less lonely and more connected,” researcher Katherine Cotter told Hyper allergic. The study, titled “Art Museums As Institutions for Human Flourishing,” was published in the Journal of Positive Psychology by Cotter and James O. Pawelski of the University of Pennsylvania.”

Further: “They discovered that visiting a museum reduced stress levels, frequent visits decreased anxiety, and viewing figurative art lowered blood pressure. They also found that museum visits lowered the intensity of chronic pain, increased a person’s life span, and lessened the likelihood of being diagnosed with dementia. And people living with dementia saw mental and physical benefits as well: Spending time in a museum induced more dynamic stress responses, higher cognitive function, and improvements in the symptoms of depression.”

Maybe someday Anxiety will be a thing of the past only found in museums

Those are some serious claims. Honestly it’s hard to make the connection myself but I am not a researcher in the field. That said it is logical to assume the findings are accurate as a museum gives you an opportunity to be in public with others, admiring the same thing. You have a shared experience and want, meaning you are all here to appreciate whatever the museum holds and that in of its self is reassuring.

Anytime you can be in a public venue with like-minded people that is helpful. The clams lowering chronic pain, increasing life span etc.? those seem like stretches to me. I’d like to see a larger sample to prove out the data but I don’t take the article as complete hogwash either. Studies don’t get published unless there is minimally good controls and the researchers are of some merit. Yes, the data is probably being vetted now by other psychologists comparatively with their own research.

That said, as a non-psychologist dealing with anxiety we take any morsel of info we can get to help us along the way. So maybe visit a museum or two this year. Make it an annual rite for yourself, perhaps it will help with anxiety and the many other issues discussed in the article.

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