Get Creative! 55 and Over Communities in NJ Can Benefit from Artistic Expression
Creative expression is one of the most uplifting, empowering, and fun ways for human beings to communicate and engage with life. Artistic expression and creative outlets are beneficial for all people, of all ages—and that includes 55 and over communities. NJ residents of Barnegat 67 will be happy to know that there are some great options for artistic guidance and participation nearby. But you don’t need an organized class to get creative—grab some paints and play with colors or write a haiku. There are as many ways to get creative as there are people on the planet. Let the artistic juices flow!
Art for Health
There are numerous health benefits to creative activities. Creating art stimulates and strengthens the brain. Imagination enriches life and creative expression provides a sense of connection to the world.
Studies have shown that participating in any creative activity—from painting to dancing to music— has a tremendously beneficial influence on emotional, psychological and physical health. Gene D Cohen, M.D., Ph.D., conducted ample research into aging and the arts. What Cohen, and others, have found is that regular engagement in creative activities of any kind can lead to a much healthier and enriched lifestyle, especially for 55 and over communities. In NJ, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved in creative expression.
Some of the specific benefits of creating art include:
- A Sense of Accomplishment, Mastery, Empowerment: Completing a passion project after putting time and effort into it can provide a person with a sense of accomplishment and self esteem.
- Self Expression: There are dozens of ways to express oneself in the world. Art offers an incredible and unique opportunity to express your vision of the world and yourself without words—whether it be through color, music, or movement. In fact, it has been found that creating art can also inspire verbal conversation for those who struggle to express themselves. Furthermore, making art often leads to social engagement which increases happiness too!
- Brain Stimulation: When people make art, different parts of the brain are engaged than the logic side. Nerves are firing and connections are happening, helping the brain to become strong and flexible. It is like a brain “work out” for areas of the brain often ignored. In fact, art therapy is often used with Alzheimer’s patients, and those who suffer from brain trauma or dementia, to stimulate the brain and stir memories.
- Stress Management: Creating art has been shown to help people relax. Focusing on creating art shifts the brain to focus on something engaging and positive. It triggers the pleasure and happy parts of the brain, thus relieving stress. Adult coloring books are now widely available specifically to help people relax the mind.
- Improved Health: Studies have shown that elderly people who engage in art have fewer health care visits and are on less medication. Of course, this also means less healthcare costs. This means that creating art for 55 and over communities in NJ can be incredibly beneficial.
- Mood Enhancement: Creating art has been shown to have a positive correlation to reduced depression and uplifted mood. Making art offers both a sense of control and empowerment for challenging oneself to do something original. Making art can increase confidence and thus minimize depression.
- Community Building: As mentioned above, creating art often includes social interaction. Many crafting forms of art—such as quilting or knitting—are often done in craft circles. Taking Tango lessons involves going to a class and interacting with other students. Sharing an art studio space for painting or working with clay are also community building activities. Social interactions and community building leads to an enhanced quality of life.
What Art Form Attracts You?
As mentioned above, there are dozens of creative activities to get involved in. Here are some ideas to get you excited. Go for the one you feel naturally drawn to—and keep experimenting until you find your passion! You could even find—or start!—a crafting or art club for your 55 and over communities in NJ.
Visual art can include drawing, painting, sculpting, crafting, photography and more. Expression through color, lines, and images is a form of communication not often encouraged in our culture. However, they are an important form of human expression in cultures around the world.
In fact, as mentioned above, art therapy has even been shown to have a tremendous effect upon Alzheimer’s patients. It has been shown to stimulate the imagination and even bring back memories. Art also allows for alternative ways of expressing oneself, which boosts cognitive function.
Dance & Movement
Dancing is a unique artistic form, because it not only gives you a way to express yourself creatively through your body, but it also provides exercise and (usually) takes place in a social environment. Dancing improves balance and helps to maintain strength and flexibility. A study from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine even indicates that dance is great for the mind, likely due to the mental workout of following dance steps and moving in rhythm to music.
Furthermore, dance involves music and music has an incredibly positive effect upon the emotions.
There are literally endless forms of dance and movement. Some include ballet, line-dancing, yoga, and other stretching and movement classes. Or try partner dancing such as tango or salsa.
Music is one of the most effective means of shifting mood and making people happy—thus reducing stress as well. Music actually releases endorphins and activates the “happy” centers of the brain. Music evokes emotion and has been shown to have a strong correlation to memory. Alzheimer’s patients often benefit from music, as it can stimulate feelings and memories.
Learning a new instrument, group drumming, and jamming are all included in musical creativity. You could even write songs, or join a singing circle. Learning to play music and hearing rhythms strengthens the mind. Music also often leads to dance, which, as mentioned above, is a strong healer as well.
Theatre & Storytelling
Always wanted to try your hand at acting? Try out for a community theatre! Acting can be tremendously therapeutic and a whole lot of fun. You could even take an acting class and have fun participating in various actor’s exercises—some of which can be hysterical. Keep an open mind and be willing to be silly and acting is a lot like playing a game.
Storytelling can be like another kind of theatre. The art of storytelling is an ancient form of human artistic expression. A story teller can weave a tale and pull the listener into another world. Storytellers can use different voices, sound effects, dramatic pauses, and can even incorporate puppets or other props to mesmerize and transport the spectators.
Creative writing can include poetry, songs, short stories, children’s stories, and more. Nonfiction is also creative—you could write down some of your own life stories, or do some nature writing. You could even begin with just keeping a journal. Join a writing club or try out The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron’s world famous guide to getting back your creativity through a series of prompts and writing exercises. The philosophy behind her method is that writing everyday unleashes creativity in any discipline—whether you want to be a writer or a musician or a dancer.
Local Resources Near Barnegat 67
Here are a few local artistic resources for 55 and over communities in NJ. There are plenty of ways to get creative for residents of Barnegat 67.
- Pine Shores Art Association—Located in downtown Manahawkin area, the Pine Shores Art Association is a non-profit that offers plenty of art workshops for adults throughout the year, taught by professional artists. Workshops are usually offered evenings and weekends. They also offer regular drop in sessions such as Portrait Sessions Sundays and Mondays and a Life Drawing Session with a nude model every Thursday evening. Check their website for a complete listing of their offerings.
- LBI Creative Minds—Located in Beach Haven, this shop offers walk-in crafting classes such as ceramics, mosaics and felting throughout the year.
- OCAC—The Ocean County Arts Center offers dancing and music lessons.
- The Music Academy— Located in Tom’s River, the Music Academy offers music lessons in guitar, piano and vocals for all ages.
- The Bay Avenue Community Center–The Stafford Recreation Center offers painting, quilting, chair yoga, Qi Gong and more.