Recently I came across an article talking about a study done with cancer patients and their caregivers. This study has shown that making art can in fact reduce stress. I never really have given it much thought up that point, simply because I am a not very talented at arts. At the same time, now that I am drawing (well you can hardly call it drawing) more and more with my kids, I can completely relate to the idea that this type of activity can in fact reduce stress levels.
My son (just like any kid in his age I guess), is very much into drawing. So every day he wants me to show him or draw for him different things. It is usually a lot of fun because first I need to figure out myself how to draw it, but what I have found is that every time I feel indeed much more relaxed afterwards. I find that because I am so focused in drawing whatever my son wants me to draw in a way that it somewhat represents what it is supposed to, I feel like I am in the "zone".......I feel so relaxed that it comes close to the feeling when I meditate.
You might think, yeah but drawing is really not my thing, and I simply don't enjoy it! This is perfectly fine, because there are so many other forms of art that you can try out in order to release stress. For example one type of art that I absolutely love is photography. I not only love looking at photos taken in nature, but I also love taking photos in nature myself (at this point a photography course is very high on my to do list). As I have said many times, I love being in nature. I am fascinated by its beauty and how everything changes during the different seasons, and I find it so fascinating when this beauty is captured in a photo.
For me personally photography has a double relaxing and stress reliving effect. One is when I am actually in nature taking photos, looking at everything that nature has to offer, enjoying the seasonal colour, and trying to capture it in a photo. I am so in the moment, that I completely forget any negative thoughts or stress that I might have experienced. The other aspect is later on when I look at the different photos I have taken - it brings back nice memories, it takes me back to the moment, and the stress that I might be feeling right at that moment is slowly but surely going away.
Drawing, photography or whatever the creative activity might be, it will actually take away the focus from the problem or stress. Since I am able to detach myself from being stressed out and focus on something completely different, I am also able to relax and in a way, and forget why I was stressed out in the first place. Also, art allows you to be creative, which means to use your right brain hemisphere more in that moment, and giving the left (more analytical) hemisphere a bit of a break in a way.
I personally feel that when it comes to art a lot of times we are hesitant because we feel like we are not good at it, or people might laugh at our creation. But at the end of the day, for me it is not about how good I am at it, it is about using arts to reduce stress, relax the mind and hopefully see the reality from different prospective.
Photo source: © Cécile Gall / cecile-gall-photography.com