The arts have been found to be effective tools for mindfulness, a trending practice in schools that is effective for managing mental health. Much like meditation, art can calm your mind by helping you focus on the moment, a popular strategy for reducing anxiety and other negative feelings. Getting lost in thought while you create can help your brain and body relax, which also leads to stress reduction and improved health.
Being mindful is being aware and conscious of your thoughts and state of mind without judgment. The cognitive-reflective aspects of the arts, in addition to their ability to shift cognitive focus, make them especially effective as tools for mindfulness. Specifically, engaging with visual art has been found to activate different parts of the brain other than those taxed by logical, linear thinking; and another study found that visual art activated distinct and specialized visual areas of the brain.
In short: the arts create conditions for mindfulness by accessing and engaging different parts of the brain through the conscious shifting of mental states. For those of us who practice regularly in the arts, we are aware of those states, able to shift in and out, and reap the physiological benefits through a neurological system that delights in and rewards cognitive challenges. Neuroesthetic findings suggest this is not an experience exclusive to artists: it is simply untapped by those who do not practice in the arts.