Stress is a feeling of tension that occurs when facing everyday pressures. It affects mental and physical health, often reducing quality of life. Activities facilitating creative expression for stress relief include drawing, painting, dancing, and writing. They can relieve stress and improve physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Incorporating creativity can be a constructive method to cope with your struggles.
Creative expression is the expression of ideas or feelings through artistic activities.
Some benefits of creative expression are improved mood, health, and social connectedness.
Art therapy, music therapy and other creative therapies are useful for those struggling with depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns.
Music, art, writing, and dancing are different creative pursuits people can partake in to relieve stress.
What is a creative expression?
Creative expression occurs when ideas or feelings are expressed through artistic activities. People can express themselves creatively through music, crafting, writing, photography, or movement. They often turn to a specific form of expression when they need to de-stress. It can also be used as a therapeutic intervention when addressing symptoms of anxiety or depression.
Benefits of creative expression
There are innumerable benefits of creative expression.
First, it improves your mood. Partaking in a creative activity can fill your brain with dopamine, an all-natural feel-good hormone. This “happy hormone” makes you feel good. Researchers found a positive relationship between creativity and happiness.
Creativity also improves your health. For instance, participating in artistic endeavors can support mental health. It reduces feelings of depression and anxiety.
Creative activities provide opportunities to meet others and make friends. Social connection enhances wellbeing.
While common therapies used to treat mental health conditions include group therapy and psychotherapy, creative pursuits can also be incorporated as therapy.
Art therapy, music therapy and other creative therapies have been helpful to those struggling with depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns. Art, in some ways, allows people to express fears, trauma, and tragedy.
Creative activities can have physiological effects that reduce stress and promote wellbeing. Incorporating creative activities into a stress management routine can help with stress relief.
How to incorporate creative expression into your daily routine?
There are several ways you can incorporate creative expression into your daily routine. Some of them include painting or drawing, music, writing, movement and connecting with nature. Adding these to your daily routine can be an effective way to relieve stress.
Painting or drawing
Immersing oneself into art can help individuals focus on the present and let go of worries. Some examples of artistic endeavors are painting or drawing. Individuals can express themselves and channel their thoughts and feelings onto paper.
Music is another way to influence emotions. Playing instruments or listening to soothing melodies can help people relax. Numerous studies show that music lowers cortisol, or the stress hormone, levels. Music can help individuals escape their stressors and find peace.
Writing can also be a good outlet to express one’s thoughts and emotions. Expressive writing, in particular, often “gives voice” to emotions, moods, and thoughts. Journaling, poetry, or creative prose are some ways to express one’s thoughts. People often discover coping strategies for stress through the writing process. Creative writing enables individuals to venture into new worlds.
Movement is great for the body and mind. Dance, a form of physical expression, is particularly good for releasing stress and emotions. Dancing can be a constructive way to channel your feelings and reduce stress. It also releases endorphins, natural mood enhancers. Dance often takes place in social settings, which further boosts health and well-being.
Connection with nature
Connecting to nature also provides people an outlet to relieve stress. Outdoor activities, such as hiking or gardening, are therapeutic and provide a sense of serenity.
What does science say about it?
Previous research suggests that creative art therapy alleviates depression, anxiety and stress levels.
In one study conducted in Jordan, researchers used 85 participants who were within three months post-stroke diagnosis. They used a depression, anxiety, and stress scale to gain psychological assessments before and after creative art therapy intervention.
The investigators found that creative art therapy resulted in positive mental health outcomes. Therefore, creative art therapy can be a useful therapeutic intervention among patients with stroke.
Another study aimed to assess the relationship between participation in creative arts endeavors and health outcomes. The researchers mainly wanted to know the impact of music engagement, visual arts therapy, movement-based creative expression, and expressive writing.
They used previous studies focusing on complementary medicine practices and searched for creative arts or expressive activities in North American and European countries. The studies targeted adults and children in various contexts. They searched databases and Internet sites to assess how creative expression as a healing process has been used to promote wellness.
It has been shown that music therapy can reduce anxiety. Participants went through a music therapy program which helped enhance the healing process and restore emotional balance. Music can also calm neural activity in the brain.
Art, like music, helps people express experiences. A cancer patient, for example, might explore the meaning of past, present, and future during art therapy.
In a quantitative study, women with cancer expressed common cancer-related difficulties, including pain, fear for the future, sleeplessness, role loss, to name a few. Through art, they were able to find solace and relief from their ongoing preoccupation with cancer.
The women also noticed improvements in self worth and identity. Their social identity was maintained and not defined by cancer and they expressed their feelings in a symbolic manner.
Other ways to relieve stress
Here are some alternative ways to alleviate stress and infuse some tranquility into your daily routine:
- Exercise. Physical activity, for instance, pumps up your feel-good endorphins and other natural neural chemicals. Exercise can refocus your mind and improve your mood.
- Balanced diet. Eating healthy can help fight off stress as well. It’s important to incorporate fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your diet.
- Meditation. It can also focus your attention and alleviate stress. It can give you a sense of calm, enhancing emotional well-being and overall health.
Therefore, we come to realize that creative expressions are just one of the many ways to relieve stress. Those who choose to utilize creative expressions have many options to choose from including music, dance, and writing. Studies have shown that creative activities often result in positive mental health outcomes. Creative art therapy also alleviates depression, anxiety, and stress levels. As a result, incorporating creative expressions into one’s daily routine can be very beneficial.
- American Public Health Association. The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health: A Review of Current Literature.
- Behavioral Sciences. Creative Arts Interventions for Stress Management and Prevention --A Systematic Review.
- Environmental Research and Public Health. Being Creative Makes You Happier: The Positive Effect of Creativity on Subjective Well-Being.
- Frontiers in Psychology. Effects of Music Listening on Cortisol Levels and Propofol Consumption during Spinal Anesthesia.
- SAGE Open Nursing. Creative Art Therapy for Improving Depression, Anxiety and Stress in Patients with Stroke: A Quasi-Interventional Study.