A&E / Archive

Arts as Stress Relief: How to use the arts in these stressful times

There’s a lot to be stressed about right now. We’re starting a new semester in the midst of the pandemic and having to deal with all of the ups and downs that go along with that. As easy as it may be to get bogged down by all of the negatives this time of year, there is one way to make stress practically disappear: art. Art can take many forms, but each one has its own way of relieving stress whether that be
physically or metaphorically.

Dancing allows you to channel any nervous energy into your body and out through movement. Letting your body loosen up and move freely to music can take focus away from stress and into a natural rhythm. Singing can have a similar effect with the power of words and the strength of voice expelling negativity and stress out of your system. Put on some uplifting songs and sing or dance along as the beats and rhythms carry any worries away.

Negative emotions can be turned into something aesthetically beautiful through painting or drawing. Paint gliding smoothly over a canvas can become tranquil and serene, and erasing pencil sketches is a reminder that most things aren’t permanent. Filling a page in a sketchbook can take your mind off of whatever you’re worrying about by initiating another productive task.

The act of cutting up magazines and arranging them into a colorful collage is a release of any frustration. It’s also a way to turn chaos into something manageable and lovely to look at. You can include pictures and quotes from magazines about current events or choose elements that have absolutely nothing to do with the state of the world at the moment. There are really no rules to making collages, and that can be very freeing.

One more creative way to relieve stress is through baking. Though not what many would consider to be a traditional art, baking is structured, so if the complete freedom of painting, drawing, dancing, or making collages seems overwhelming, there are plenty of recipes to guide you along. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the end product is a tasty treat for you to share with
friends or enjoy by yourself!

None of these activities require you to be masterful at them to relieve stress. None of them require perfection. Most of them are free or require very few supplies, so they’re all accessible at pretty much any time or place. The only thing that matters is that you’re having fun doing something creative that can put a smile on your face, even for a moment. It’s okay if taking your mind off of everything else is the only reason you make art. It’s okay if you’re not the best at making art either. One purpose of art is to make you feel something, and if that something is joyful, peaceful, or more mindful of ways to deal directly with stressors themselves, then it has done its job, and it has done it well.

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