A new study provides preliminary evidence that creating art can reduce stress levels, regardless of the artistic skill of the person.
The study included 39 healthy adults aged 18-59 years, who were provided with a selection of art materials, such as modeling clay, marker pens, and paper, and were told they could use them to create anything they wanted to. Researchers found that just 45 minutes of art creation - such as making clay models or drawing – significantly lowered levels of the stress hormone, cortisol in 75% of the study participants indicating a reduction in stress. This finding remained even after accounting for participants' experience of art-making.
Participants' written responses indicated that they found the art-making session to be relaxing, enjoyable, helpful for learning about new aspects of self, freeing from constraints, an evolving process of initial struggle to later resolution, and about flow/losing themselves in the work.
The study led by Girija Kaimal, assistant professor of creative arts therapies at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, and colleagues is published in Art Therapy, Journal of the American Art Therapy Association