2020 has been a uniquely challenging year for almost everyone. Even those of us who have been fortunate enough to remain healthy have likely experienced increased stress and anxiety. If you are struggling to cope with stress due to the worldwide health crisis (or for any other reason), here’s a solution you may not have previously considered: Make art!
There is ample evidence that creating art can work as an effective medicine for a variety of ailments, but particularly for mental health. Artistic activities, such as painting or drawing, have been shown to help people work through depression, anxiety, dementia, and even cancer.
Fortunately, you can take advantage of the stress-relieving benefits of art, even if you don’t consider yourself an artist. A study out of Drexel University, published in Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, showed that 45 minutes of an artistic activity significantly reduced cortisol levels, regardless of the participants’ artistic abilities. Self-proclaimed artists saw the same amount of benefit as those who considered their abilities to be limited. So, whether or not you consider yourself an artist, you can use art as a way to reduce stress.
Although this study showed that artistic ability does not play a role in the stress-relieving benefits of art, it did show that younger people seemed to experience a more significant benefit from art creation. There was a correlation between lower age and lower cortisol levels, indicating that young people find art more stress-relieving than their older counterparts do.
Another interesting point of this study is that artistic media was not an important factor. Any type of artistic activity can be beneficial. That means you can try drawing, painting, crafting, collaging, pottery, or any other artistic endeavor — and still enjoy the mental health benefits.
If you are interested in professional help, consult an art therapist. Art therapists often work in inpatient offices or private mental health offices, but some may be available for home or even virtual visits. You can meet with an art therapist one-on-one or in a group setting. No matter which route you choose, consider using art as a way to help yourself cope with stress through the remainder of the pandemic.