Art can reduce stress—and science says so.
As a long-time art instructor, I can tell you firsthand how engaging in any sort of art-making, whether you are experienced or just a beginner, can lead to decreased stress levels and a welcome distraction from whatever worries you might have.
In fact, a study from Drexel University found reduced cortisol levels—the hormone related to stress-levels—in 75% of study participants after they participated in 45 minutes of art making.
Perhaps the most surprising part of the study:
Researchers found that there was no difference in the lower stress level results between people who had previous experience in art, and those who did not.
That means that the stress-reducing benefits of art is for everyone!
Here are 3 creative & simple ways to relax and reduce stress—without needing to learn a complicated craft or spend a lot of money on supplies.
Re-awaken your inner child with coloring.
As children, we can all remember spending time scribbling through coloring books, practicing our ability to “color in the lines.” Maybe you can remember some of your colored pages posted to the refrigerator door as a kid.
As Pablo Picasso said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
It’s time to rediscover that inner artist that you once knew as a child! A great place to start—reawaken your love for coloring.
There are plenty of “adult coloring books” out there with designs perfect for a relaxing few minutes of coloring.
You can also have a fresh batch of coloring pages delivered to your inbox every month with the subscription service from Color Happy. And of course you can always use your own drawing.
Experiment with colored pencils, crayons, markers, watercolors… whatever you have that is fun and relaxing for you to use!
Take a nature walk with your sketchpad.
Making art while in nature is a double dose of relaxation. Studies show that being out in nature, even if it’s only for 20 minutes a day, can significantly lower your stress hormone levels.
So take a walk in nature, whether it’s a walk down the street, a trip to a nearby park, or a longer outing to a state or national park. Be mindful of the details of your surroundings—the color of the sky, the shape of the clouds, the wind in the trees and the movement of shadows. Being an artist begins, after all, with noticing.
Bring along a sketchbook with you, and find a place to stop long enough to draw something—maybe wildflowers alongside the path, a remarkable tree you passed, distant hills that caught your attention.
The quality of the drawing doesn’t matter—it’s the actual mark-making that is so valuable! The process of observing and then reproducing an image is what is so restful.
Paint a clay pot.
Or bring that nature experience inside by painting a clay pot for an existing or new plant! Several studies have found that indoor plants boast a variety of psychological benefits, including, of course, a reduction in stress levels.
Your local hardware or hobby store will have clay pots of all sizes to choose from, as well as inexpensive acrylic craft paints you can use to spruce up your pot. If you need design ideas, a quick search through Pinterest will lead you to plenty of inspiration!
No matter which creative activity you choose to relax, the important thing is to have fun with it! It’s not about perfection or about mastering a skill, but rather about the process of creation and the way it relaxes your mind. So don’t wait another moment to relax and get started in art!
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