Embracing imagination: the correlation between the arts and stress relief

Nora Miller, Entertainment Columnist

Exercise. Meditation. Yoga. These are the common mechanisms our wellness teachers give us sophomore year to handle stress. Even though running a few miles throughout the week can be a fantastic way to relieve stress, I suggest you to take a closer glance at a glossed over form of stress relief: creating art.

Students at ETHS are not safe from highly pressurized environments where, according to American Psychological Association, 31 percent of teens in the country feel overwhelmed. To counter conclusions made by this study which explains that young adults are statistically in apart of more stressful situations than adults, I encourage you to challenge stress in the productive form of art making. Creative forms of that have been proven to curtail the steady flow of strain that comes from homework, social media, and looking towards post high school options include creative writing, dancing, drawing, painting and singing to your routine.

Statistically, increasing the amount of art an individual creates can lowers cortisol levels, and is a calming outlet to release stress, according to a study conducted by Girija Kaimal, Kendra Ray and Juan Muniz, researchers for the Journal of the American Art Association. The study, funded by Drexel University, states that ethnicity, gender identity, prior knowledge, race, or medium were not factors on whether or not stress levels decreased.

I understand that if you are unfamiliar with a form of art, even coloring, may seem daunting, but art does not have to be a talent or a hobby, it can simply be a way to get your mind off of a stressful situation. The Research Institute for Creative Arts Therapies (RIArT) at Alanus University for Arts released a study in February 2018 found that in a focus group using drawing and clay as therapy, had a success rate of 73 percent. In the same study, 80 percent of another group experienced a reduction in stress when using a musical instrument.

To name a few, visual artists such as Edvard Munch, Vincent van Gogh, Tracey EminLouise Bourgeois have recounted in interviews and autobiographies that their art was not what they did for a living, but it was a form of therapy they used to express fears and worries. Personally, I do not consider myself a dancer, but not being a world class ballerina does not discourage me from flailing around in my room to a song when I am stressed out about an upcoming physics test.

Creative stimulation can mitigate stress and reduce anxiety, especially at a time, at least in my life, if feels like the weight of the world is resting on my shoulders. For me, creating a collage, sketching an apple, and rapping along to a song while I study has helped me decrease the balloon of school and stress related thoughts growing in my brain. I urge you to shed the icy third quarter baggage this spring break, and trust the scientific results that if you grab a pencil and a coloring book, sing in the shower, or make up a fun dance routine; your stress through the rest of the year will decline. Having a creative outlet can induce happiness and will let you shine through strain.