Meditation and Art Therapy Improve Brain Activity
A new study published in the journal Stress and Health reveals that combining creative art therapy with a Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program can help women with breast cancer to reduce stress levels that can impact their health. High levels of stress and anxiety are believed to result in poor health outcomes in patients with cancer, and researchers from the Jefferson-Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine demonstrated that these interventions can improve blood flow to the brain which correlate with reducing stress.
The study involved 18 breast cancer patients who were randomly assigned to a Mindfulness-based Art Therapy (MBAT) program or a control group with an education program. Participants assigned to the MBAT group followed the MBSR curriculum which taught awareness of breathing, mindful yoga, awareness of emotion, walking, eating, and listening. These were combined with expressive art projects which provided opportunities for self-expression.
The investigators also measured the patients’ response to the intervention using a symptom checklist which the patients completed after eight weeks. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) before and after the treatments, they then evaluated cerebral blood flow which corresponded with changes in brain activity. The results of the tests showed that patients in the MBAT group had significant improvements in cerebral blood flow compared to those in the control group. The changes were seen in the emotional centers of the brain, the area which helps people experience stress, the area that regulates stress responses, and the area that forms part of our brain’s reward system. These changes significantly correlated with a reduction of stress and anxiety.
Thomas Jefferson University. Mediation combined with art therapy can change your brain and lower anxiety. ScienceDaily.