As students, almost everything we do comes with expectations. We’re expected to join student organizations, get internships and jobs, all while still getting good grades and graduating on time. These high expectations can make us so stressed that we may want to scream or cry. Sometimes even both.
To decompress, we might sit down and watch Netflix or Youtube. But this habit can make us stress out even more since after decompressing, we realize we still have stuff to do. Then we stress about how we wasted time on our break. It’s a never-ending cycle of stressing, de-stressing, and stressing about de-stressing.
Here’s how I’ve been able to escape that:
I paint. For the past month, once a week, my friend and I have been getting together, putting on some TV and painting. We started doing this after going to a painting event that our dorm hosted. We felt like it helped relieve some of our stress about school, so we’ve made it a regular thing.
So far it’s been great. There is something so therapeutic about being creative just for the heck of it. The painting doesn’t have to be good— it’s not going to be graded; it’s just for me. I feel more relaxed after, and although I’m still aware of the things that are causing stress in my life, I feel more calm about dealing with them.
It’s not a coincidence that painting makes me feel less stressed. Art can have many positive psychological effects. When we create art, it sparks activity in the part of the brain that deals with self monitoring and self awareness. As a result, we become more in touch with our emotions. This emotional awareness prepares us to deal with upcoming stressors ahead. Being aware of your feelings helps you manage them better, so you can stay calm through stressful times. Practicing art also provides a physical outlet for your emotions. So if you’re feeling stressed, using that energy to paint something that represents your worries can make you feel better.
In addition to the psychological benefits, it can be nice to create something without expectations or consequences. With all that we’re expected to do and be in college, it’s nice to make something for yourself, and not for a grade. It can be hard to shake off the feeling that your art has to be perfect, but once you’re able to move past that, the pressure taken off your shoulders feels so liberating. There doesn’t have to be any expectations for your art. You can just paint and it doesn’t matter how messy or outside the lines .
Creating art in general is good for destressing, so the activity doesn’t have to specifically be painting. Sculpting, drawing, writing, and other forms of creativity work just as well. Find the technique that works for you and create away!
Remember that the art doesn’t have to be “good.” I am by no means a painter, but that’s not what matters. What matters is that you find a creative outlet that helps you relieve your stress. Who knows? You might even find a talent you didn’t know you had.
Featured image courtesy of Pexels