If You’re Feeling Stressed, Try Picking Up a Paintbrush

Woman painting plants, trees, leaves, and succulents on small boxes.

Everybody knows what it’s like to get hit with bouts of stress from time to time (some more often than others). But while your go-to relief from work, family, or financial troubles may be to make time for some meditation or maybe hit the gym – all super viable options, by the way – there’s another stress reliever that you might want to add to your mind-relaxing bag of tricks: art.

According to a number of studies on the relationship between art and stress, taking the time to lose yourself in a creative outlet like drawing, painting, or some other kind of crafty handiwork can work wonders on a stressed out mind. For example, one study published in Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association last May found that when adults between the ages of 18 and 59 were prompted to create any kind of art that they wanted over the course of a 45-minute period, 75 percent of the adults had lower cortisol levels by the end of that art-making session. While the results weren’t really affected by the actual kind of art that the participants were doing – some people used markers while others used things like clay – there was a bit of an age factor to the study. Specifically, the research found that the younger the test subject was, the more likely it was that the art would help reduce stress levels.

When you think about it, it makes sense to see that creating art can have a positive impact on stress levels since, among other things, artistic endeavors have a way of clearing your mind as you channel your mental energy into creating something. And because it really is primarily about this use of art as a potential outlet for pent up stress, an actual artistic talent hardly needs to be considered a prerequisite to reaping these benefits. Which means, whether you’re the next Picasso or your “art” is more akin to scribbles, you definitely have something to gain from trying your hand at a project or two in the interest of a stress-free mind.

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