Stress, no doubt is one of the leading problems that people in today’s world face. Working long and gruelling hours, meeting deadlines, finishing presentations, coping with familial and social demands are a few of the factors that lead to stress. While everyone has their own coping mechanism, one of the ways to find relief is to allow your creative side free reign in your free time. Any kind of artistic expression, be it drawing, painting, sketching, music, dancing, etc has had a long connection with helping humans reduce stress levels.
In fact, the University of Westminster recently conducted a study to gauge just how much these can help reduce stress. Participants of the study were sent to visit an art gallery during lunchtime. Participants were asked to record their stress levels before visiting the place. Each person then spent up to 35 minutes inside, exploring and observing the amazing artwork. When they got out, they reported their stress levels to be way lower than they were before. Also, their bodies exhibited low levels of cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress.
This is likely to be true, agrees Niladri Roy, who admits that art enhances his skill of self-expression and releases stress. He says, “Art provides an outlet for strong emotions, which results in boosting my confidence. It also acts as a catalyst to bring together like-minded people, who interact and appreciate each other.”
Niladri only finds time on weekends for this stress-busting activity, but he maximises its impact by using different mediums and techniques, such as water colours, pencil sketches, acrylics, etc.
Meanwhile, Medha Desai feels that you shouldn’t limit yourself to only painting. She believes that dancing, singing, drama, sketching, can help just as well. “I love pencil sketching. It works at whatever level my mind is at. When I’m more negative, I have done sketches of skeletons, death, or anything that is sad. When I am happy, I have done more florals, nature, landscapes, etc. I can express those emotions that I can’t really share with a person via this medium,” Medha confides, adding that art has helped her relax and become calmer, thereby making her productive at work.
According to Divya Daya, art not only helped her cope with stress but also to come out of depression. She explains, “Art helps with stress, no doubt. But, for me, when I am stressed, I tend to end up painting something that is negative. But if it comes out good, it gives me strength.”
Psychologist Anika C explains the efficacy of such therapeutic pursuits, “As adults, we express less and experience more. Art helps us to express emotions, and experience a state of flow or feeling good. Research suggests that this happens due to its impact in modifying the brain’s physiology and structure, which eventually leads to us being more adaptable, creative, positive and experiencing a change in perspective which helps to combat stress.”