Ah, school days. Some students were able to draw Disney characters from memory by the time they reached about third grade. Remember those kids?
They seemed destined for cartoon greatness. They somehow easily put the rest of art class to shame in about 15 minutes, leaving you to wonder why you decided to try your own quasi bear/elephant on construction paper in the first place. What a waste of time.
Or, was it? According to scientists who’ve studied the effect making art has on people, what you did create was actually very useful. It might not go up for auction, but listen to this. Researchers have found investing your mind in about 45 minutes of creative activity, be it music-making, pipe-cleaner pumpkin construction, or expressing yourself via black blobs of paint on a canvas, can greatly reduce your stress.
Art therapists have known this intuitively for years. It’s interesting to see some science behind the idea, though.
Clay, Collage and Markers
According to a report on Huffingtonpost.ca, professors at Drexel University dug in, to find out what really happens. They measured the cortisol levels, (key stress indicators), of a group of students aged 18-59 before and after participating in an art activity.
It was found that almost 75 percent of the participants lowered their stress levels through art.
What did they make? Anything they wished. Participants were given markers, clay, collage materials and paper and were asked to create something. Participants had varying levels of art-making experience, many very little.
Related: A Short Guide to Managing Stress
Interestingly, the youngest participants, (aged about 18 years), experienced the greatest reduction in their stress. Researchers aren’t sure why this was the case, but they guessed that it may have had to do with the fact that when you’re young, your brain is still figuring out how to manage stress. Older participants may have had stress reduction strategies already in place, in their lives.
The most important finding? The quality of the end-product participants produced really didn’t matter at all. Ugly mouse or clay Picasso, it was the action of doing something creative that produced the benefit.
So, grab those Crayolas- who says they’re just for kids.
Photo credits: PointImages/Shutterstock.com