Making Art Reduces Stress Hormones

Even if you can’t draw or paint, taking up some kind of art might be the answer to lowering your stress levels.

39 people, ranging in age from 18 to 59, took part in a 45-minute art project in what seemed like a fun review. Before and after the art-making process, cortisol levels were measured. (The higher a person’s cortisol level is, the more depressed he or she is.)

Markers, paper, modeling clay, and collage materials were available to all participants. They had 45 minutes to make whatever kind of art they liked. An art therapy was also on hand to assist those who needed it.

After analyzing cortisol reactions, the researchers discovered that when creating artwork, 75% of the participants’ cortisol levels fall. This was valid for those with prior art knowledge as well as those with only minimal skills.

“It was both shocking and not,” said Girija Kaimal, EdD, a coauthor.

“It wasn’t unexpected because it’s the core principle of art therapy: that everyone should be imaginative and expressive in the visual arts while they practice in a safe environment. However, I expected the results to be greater for those who had previous experience.”

Moreover, the researchers immediately thought that the variety of fabrics used by the subjects would have a different impact on their cortisol levels. Unstructured experiments, such as working with clay or painting with pens, were believed to result in lower cortisol levels than more organized projects, such as collaging.

However, no major variations existed between the two.

When asked how they felt about their art-making sessions, the participants were enthusiastic. They considered the artistic challenge to be pleasurable and unrestricted. Some people were so absorbed in their work that they developed a drive to create more art in the future.

If you’re feeling stressed, you may want to consider taking up drawing. Purchase any paper, colored pencils, or paint and experiment on your own, or enroll in a workshop. Many community centres in the area have art workshops for a set amount to help reduce the overall expenses.

SOURCES:

At any skill level, making art reduces stress hormones. Press Release. Drexel University via EurekAlert.

Kaimal G, et al. Reduction of Cortisol Levels and Participants’ Responses Following Art Making. Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association. Volume 33, Issue 2,

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