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Anxiety? Depression? Hit the Museum

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A recently published study confirms engaging in cultural activities has direct effects on our emotional patterns.

A group of researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology recently published, in The Journal of Epidemology and Community Health, a study that proves that those who take part in cultural activities have a significantly smaller possibility to suffer from depression or anxiety.

For both theoretical and practical reasons, the researchers split “cultural activities” into two broad types: creative and receptive. The former are those in which the person gets actively involved in the creation of a “cultural good”: maybe writing a song after taking piano lessons, finishing a portrait after taking some painting classes, etc. The latter implies the reception of “cultural” experiences: visiting a gallery, going to a concert, walking around a museum. In both cases the result was similar: out of a sample of around 50,000 people, those who get involved in cultural activities have a tendency to enjoy a more emotionally healthy and stable lifestyle than those who don’t.

This research used basic statistics, derived from a questionnaire in which the participants had to answer how frequently they enjoyed “cultural” activities, and how these were related to their lifestyle. Having this information allowed the researchers to establish a series of patterns related to both physical and mental health, including a clinical examination of the people who completed the questionnaire, so they could contrast both databases.

Those who frequently engaged in cultural activities, both creative and receptive, did not only have better emotional and mental health – from little to no disposition to depression or anxiety whatsoever — but they, moreover, led happier, more creative, initiative-driven lives.

So yes, the museum is good for you.

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