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Hanging Up Art In Your Home Can Make You Happier

But don't hang up art for the sake of having art.
Whether you’re creating art or just viewing, art is a very effective way to stimulate the brain.
Hero Images via Getty Images
Whether you’re creating art or just viewing, art is a very effective way to stimulate the brain.

Welcome to HuffPost Canada’s (almost) daily guide to helping you pick up an easy, everyday ritual that can make your life a bit better, in a small but significant way.

Canadians are stressed out, anxious, and are feeling disconnected from each other. Every Monday through Friday, we’ll share a tiny tip to help you feel good. We’ve got your back.

Today’s Habit: Hang up wall art.

For whenever you’re feeling: Like you need a change of scenery.

What it is: We’ve been in our tiny home for a few years and, aside from some new photos of our 15-month-old, we haven’t changed the art hanging on our walls.

Tiny Habits readers, we’ve had some of this wall art since we moved into our first apartment more than a decade ago and we are a bit tired of the Jamie Dornan Calvin Klein magazine ad that’s staring at us as we clean up our baby’s drool from the couch.

It’s time to freshen up our home with some new wall art that reflects who we are now.

How it can help: We know there are health benefits to looking at and creating art — numerous studies have touted the healing properties of being creative. You don’t even have to be any good at making art, or know anything about interior design, to hang up art. Just having something new in your home — whether it be photos, your kids’ drawings, your own art, or a painting you bought from a local artist — can lift your mood.

“Whether you’re creating art or just viewing, art is a very effective way to stimulate the brain,” notes the website Custom Canvas Prints. “Not only does it promote overall feelings of happiness while you’re able to explore your own unique style, art has so many mental health benefits available for anyone and everyone.”

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A 2010 study looked at the relationship between engagement with the creative arts and health outcomes. It found that experiencing art, by either making or viewing it, helped people deal with different kinds of trauma.

“Art helps people express experiences that are too difficult to put into words, such as a diagnosis of cancer,” study authors Heather L. Stuckey and Jeremy Nobel noted. “Artistic self-expression might contribute to maintenance or reconstruction of a positive identity,” they added.

And a series of brain-mapping experiments conducted in 2011 by Semir Zeki, a neurobiologist at the University College London, found that looking at art can “trigger a surge of the feel-good chemical, dopamine, into the orbito-frontal cortex of the brain, resulting in feelings of intense pleasure,” notes The Telegraph.

Hanging up artwork in your home, even if it’s just one new piece, can make you feel giddy. “It boosts drive, focus, concentration and can boost self-esteem, providing a sense of accomplishment,” notes the Custom Canvas Prints site.

However, don’t hang up art just because you want to fill up your walls.

“Do not purchase or hang a piece of art if it doesn’t give you a positive emotional response,” interior designer Anne Anderson wrote on her website. “When purchasing art, try to focus on what you love or what is meaningful to you.”

So, take a look around your home and ask yourself:

  • Do I love what’s hanging up on my walls?
  • Does each piece bring me joy?
  • What would I like to see on my walls?
  • Is there something I can hang up that’s not traditional art, like a memento I picked up from a trip; a postcard; a piece of jewelry; a strip of fabric; something you drew as a child?

Think outside the box, and you’ll probably have a lot of fun re-arranging your art.

Where you can do it: In the living room, bedroom, basically anywhere you have art hanging up.

How it makes us feel: Putting up something new on our walls always makes us feel as if we’re living in a new home for at least a week, which makes us happier and re-invigorated.

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