A cheap, addictive but healthy cure for stress – Interested?

Many of us are stressed and live at a fast pace. Your life may be controlled by the next project due, the upcoming exam, or by the need to get results from your research.

There is an easy, cheap and healthy way to relieve stress by engaging in a creative activity. Studies have found that spending as little as 45 minutes doing something creative can reduce cortisol levels and cause you to feel better. Another study suggests that the act of doing something artistic (even if you don’t consider yourself creative) causes you to focus on what you are creating, forget your problems and relax.

One of my serious hobbies is watercolor painting. I can spend three hours painting and it seems like thirty minutes. Doing something creative takes your full focus, reduces worry and relaxes you. Sometimes I turn on a podcast while I paint. But I soon realize I have not heard anything the speaker is saying because my mind was completely engaged in what my hands were doing. My theory for that is because I’m involving multiple areas – thinking, imagination, my hands, problem-solving, color, form.

You don’t need to be creative to engage in creativity. Here are some ideas of how you can take an art break to relieve stress:

You want to try and engage your eyes, mind, hands and imagination.

  • Adult coloring book – This would be an easy way to begin. Buy a coloring book made for an adult. They have more detail than children’s coloring books. Get some nice pens or colored pencils and try it out. It’s easy and low risk.
  • Pipe cleaners: (Not actually used for cleaning pipes… Pipe cleaners can be bought at a craft store and are thin wires, covered in colorful fuzz.) Buy a bunch of pipe cleaners. See if you can make a snowflake design or build a house or even make a horse.
  • Playdough or soft modeling clay: Buy some children’s play dough and make a creation you dream up. You can even make your own following these instructions.
  • Draw. Buy a sketchbook at the campus bookstore and a pencil. For a nice break, try to draw a scene that you see from where you are sitting. It can be a building, a tree or something small that you enlarge on the paper. Don’t worry about being precise. Don’t judge your outcome.
  • Paint a picture with watercolors. To be a little more adventurous try painting. Buy a watercolor paper pad, a pencil, a brush and a set of basic watercolor pan paints. I would encourage you to spend a little more and get good paint and one good brush. You can probably get a nice set (paint, brush and pad) for around $25. You’ll also need a little jar to put water in. Choose a simple scene on campus. Make a simple basic sketch with your pencil and then fill in with color. You can paint something you see from your window or from a photo on your phone or computer.

Have fun and don’t judge the results. Your goal is not to create a masterpiece but to relieve stress.


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