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Study Finds Making Art Can Reduce Your Stress (No Matter How Skilled You Are)

Study Finds Making Art Can Reduce Your Stress (No Matter How Skilled You Are)

In Kindergarten, just after recess, at the end of the day, or after any “rowdy” activity, my teacher would dim the lights, put on very soft music, set the timer for 15 minutes and pass out coloring sheets. We were not allowed to talk during this time–just color. There was no pressure to finish the picture or “produce” a work of art, it was simply a time to allow us to unwind, calm down and de-stress.

Unbeknownst to me, she was definitely on to something.

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What my teacher understood and was able to tap into was the therapeutic effects of creating art. Today, Art therapy is actually a thing. Research shows that there are legitimate benefits of art therapy even if you are absolutely horrible at all things creative and crafty.

In a clinical setting, art therapist use this medium to help people resolve conflicts, improve interpersonal skills, manage problematic behaviors, reduce negative stress, and achieve personal insight.

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Stress reducing benefits of art therapy

BY: A. SYN
    Photo Credit: A. Syn on Flickr

    Recently, Girija Kaimal, EdD. Assistant Professor of Creative Arts Therapies at Drexel University, conducted a study on the effects that participation in art activities has on stress hormones in the body. The conclusion was simple yet profound: 45 minutes of creative activity significantly lessens stress in the body, regardless of artistic experience or talent.

    “It was surprising and it also wasn’t,”  Kaimal said in an interview with Drexel Now. “It wasn’t surprising because that’s the core idea in art therapy: Everyone is creative and can be expressive in the visual arts when working in a supportive setting. That said, I did expect that perhaps the effects would be stronger for those with prior experience.”

    The research found that cortisol levels (or stress hormones)  of 75 percent of the participants were lowered during their 45 minute art making session. And while there was some variation in how much cortisol levels lowered, there was no correlation between past art experiences and lower stress levels.

    Reaping the benefits of art therapy

    By: SFU
      Photo Credit: By: SFU on Wikipedia.org

      Whether you could give Picasso a run for his money or can barely sketch a stick figure, you can reap the benefits of art therapy. The focus of this exercise is not on the finished product but on the transformative process that occurs during the experience. You don’t need a professional art therapists to reap the benefits of art therapy. Here are a few simple tips to help you become your own art therapist:

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      • Keep it simple. If you know very little about art and don’t consider yourself an especially creative individual, start with a good old fashioned–old school coloring book and a box of crayons or colored pencils. This is a great way to still be creative without actually increasing your stress level trying to create something outside your artistic realm.
      • Paint your feelings. This is another fun and simple way to be creative without the stress of producing a finished product per se. You get to decide what the finish product should be. By painting something intangible like your feelings, you won’t feel limited by your artistic inexperience in the same way you would if you were trying to paint something realistic like a landscape. Just allow yourself to flow freely and paint how you feel.
      • Try a DIY project. This is great for those who are not neccessarily “free flowers.” If you prefer a bit more structure and need to produce a finished product, DIY projects are for you. Remember to ensure the project correlates with your ability and level of expertise. You can try a new recipe, build a book shelf, build a model plane or find something interesting and different on YouTube. Again, perfection is not the destination–it’s about the journey.
      • Draw a picture with your less dominant hand or paint a picture with your toes. This is not just art therapy it is an exercise in hilarity. You will not only create something very unique but you will be completely consumed in trying to master the dexterity to accomplish the task. You will de-stress and have fun simultaneously.
      • Try Journaling. If words are a way that you enjoy expressing yourself, this may be the best creative outlet for you. Try not to focus on grammar, spelling or being entirely coherent and eloquent. Just get it out. You can create lists, journal about your dreams, write short stories, or create perfection (your perfect life, spouse, child, world, etc.). Journaling need not be an everyday activity–just when your mood is right.

      No matter what medium you choose making art is good for the body, mind and soul–even if your creation resembles the deranged scribbles of a grumpy toddler.

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      Denise Hill

      Denise shares about psychology and communication tips on Lifehack.

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      Last Updated on October 23, 2019

      50 Habits of Highly Successful People You Should Learn

      50 Habits of Highly Successful People You Should Learn

      If you’re like me and really into self-development, you’ve probably read many of the thousands of self-help books out there on the market. But also like me, you probably find all the information a bit overwhelming.

      That’s why I wanted to do the self-less task of taking the most important, life-changing lessons I’ve drawn from these books and condensed them into fifty key points.

      Here’re 50 habits of highly successful people you should learn:

      1. Believe It to See It

      Our minds tend to focus on what’s happening around us and refuse to see what could happen. Only when you trust in what’s possible and dare to dream big, big things can happen for you.

      2. See Problems as a Wonderful Gift

      While others only see problems and give up, successful people use the problem as a lesson to find improvement in themselves or the task at hand.

      3. Keep Looking for Solutions

      Even if they’re knee-deep in problems, successful people will still put all of their focus on finding solutions.

      4. Remember It’s All About the Journey

      Successful people are conscious and methodical in creating their own success. They don’t sit around doing the bare minimum, hoping success finds them.

      5. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

      There’s so much fear on the road to success, but instead of letting that fear control and limit them, successful people do a good job of just forging ahead regardless.

      6. Always Ask Productive Questions

      It’s all about asking the right questions. Successful people make sure they are questions that will elicit information for a more productive, creative and positive mindset moving forward.

      7. Understand the Best Waste of Energy Is Complaining

      Successful people know that choosing to see the negative side of things will only create a useless and unproductive state.

      8. Don’t Play the Blame Game

      Taking responsibility for actions and outcomes is a form of empowerment that you can build your success upon. While the act of blaming others or outside circumstances takes this empowerment away from you.

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      9. Maximize Your Strengths

      Not every successful person is simply more talented than the rest, but they do use what they know they’re good at to achieve more successful results.

      10. Be in It to Win It

      Successful people are busy, productive and proactive. Instead of sitting around over-thinking and over-planning a great idea, they just take a step towards it no matter how small.

      11. Know That Success Attracts Success

      People who are successful surround themselves and seek out like-minded people. They understand the importance of being part of a team and forge win-win relationships.

      12. Actually Choose to Be Successful

      Dreaming big is a massive part of being successful even if your dream seems impossible. Ambition is a mindset that needs to be a daily conscious choice.

      13. Visualize, Visualize, Visualize!

      You’ve got to see your success in your mind’s eye even before it comes. Successful people clarify and get that certainty about what they want their reality to look like rather than being mere spectators of life.

      14. Be a One-Off Original

      Successful people look for what’s working and then create a unique spin on it. Imitating only regurgitates other people’s ideas with no originality.

      15. The Perfect Time to Act Is Now

      Waiting for the right time to act is basically procrastination wrapped up in an excuse. Successful people know there’s never a perfect time so they may as well just do it now.

      16. Keep Learning, Keep Growing

      Continuous learning is the key to a successful life. Whether it’s academic, being a student of life or actionable learning, it’s all about expanding your knowledge and personal development.

      17. Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

      Successful people have the knack for finding positive aspects in all people and circumstances no matter what.

      18. Having a Bad Day? Do It Anyway!

      We all have bad moods but it shouldn’t be an excuse to stop everything. Giving into a bad mood just stop-starts your life, slowing success way down.

      19. Sometimes Risky Business Is Needed

      Calculated risks are a must for success. It’s about weighing the pros and cons while moving forward with that element of trust.

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      20. Accept Challenge All the Time

      Dealing with problems head-on is a must to be successful. Successful people also face challenges in order to improve themselves.

      21. Make Your Own Luck

      In the mindset of a successful person, there’s no such thing as ‘luck’ or ‘fate’. They take control to actively and consciously create their own best life.

      22. Ignite Your Initiative

      While many people are reactive, successful people are proactive – taking action before they have to.

      23. Be the Master of Your Emotions

      Being effective at managing emotions is key on the road to success. That’s not to say successful people don’t feel like we all do, but they’re just not slaves to their emotions.

      24. Champion in Communication

      Consciously working on effective communication skills gets anyone closer to success.

      25. Plan Your Life Strategically

      Successful people’s lives aren’t a clumsy series of unplanned events and outcomes, they methodically work at turning their plans into a reality.

      26. Become Exceptional at What You Do

      To become exceptional, you typically have to do things that most won’t. To become successful, hard decisions need to be made and acting on them is crucial.

      27. Choose to Live Outside of Your Comfort Zone

      While many people are pleasure junkies and avoid pain and discomfort at all costs, successful people understand the value and benefits of working through the tough stuff that most would avoid.

      28. Live by Core Values

      Successful people firstly identify their core values and what’s important to them, then do their best to live a life that reflects these values.

      29. Realize Money Isn’t Everything

      Money and success are not interchangeable and the most successful people understand this. Putting money on a pedestal and equating it to success is a dangerous mindset to have. Success comes in many forms.

      30. Don’t Get Carried Away

      Successful people understand the importance of discipline and self-control and as a result they are happy to take the road less travelled.

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      31. Self-Worth Is Not Tied to Success

      Successful people are secure. They do not derive their self-worth from what they own, who they know, where they live or what they look like.

      32. Kindness Breeds Kindness (And Success)

      Generosity and kindness is a common trait among long-term successful people. It’s important to take pleasure in helping others achieve.

      33. More Humility, Less Arrogance

      Successful people are humble and happy to admit and apologize for mistakes. This is because they’re confident in their ability. They are happy to learn from others and happy to make others look good rather than seek their own personal glory.

      34. Change Opens New Doors

      People who are successful are adaptable and embrace change, while the majority are creatures of comfort and habit. They are comfortable with, and embrace, the new and the unfamiliar.

      35. Success Requires a Healthy Body

      It’s not just how you think, it’s about how you show up for success. Successful people understand the importance of being physically well, not for vain reasons but because being in tiptop condition creates a better personal life for success.

      36. Laziness Just Doesn’t Exist

      Successful people are never considered lazy. Yes, they can relax when they need to, but working hard is their game.

      37. Resilience by the Bucket Load

      When difficulty strikes, most would throw in the towel, but successful people are just warming up.

      38. Feedback Is Just Another Chance to Improve

      How people react to feedback determines their potential for success. Being open to constructive criticism and acting on it to improve is most seen in those who are successful.

      39. Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe

      If people are hanging out with toxic and negative people, then they need to take a look at themselves. Successful people hang out with others who are positive and supportive.

      40. Can’t Control It? Forget It

      Successful people don’t invest time or emotional energy into things which they have no control of.

      41. Swim Against the Tide

      Successful people are not people-pleasers and they don’t need constant approval from others in order to move ahead.

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      42. Alone Time Is Valuable Time

      More self-worth means being more comfortable with your own company. Successful people are more happy and see the value in spending time alone.

      43. Self-Standard Is Higher Than Most

      Everyone has a choice to set high standards for themselves. Successful people do this, which in turn produces greater commitment, more momentum, a better work ethic and of course, better results.

      44. Failure Isn’t Rationalized

      While many use age, health, lack of time, ‘bad luck’, or lack of opportunity to explain away their failure, the key to success is finding a way to succeed despite facing these challenges.

      45. Down Time Is an Important Part of a Routine

      Having an off switch and taking time to do things that make them happy is a common trait of a successful person. Take a look at here The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

      46. Career Isn’t Who You Are, It’s What You Do

      Successful people know their career isn’t their identity. They are multi-dimensional and don’t define themselves by their job.

      47. Be Interested in Only the Path of Resistance

      While most people look for the easiest way or the shortcut, successful people are more interested in the most effective way. They look for the course of action which will produce the best results over the long term.

      48. Follow Through

      Many spend their life starting things that they never finish, but successful people get the job done. Even when the excitement and the novelty has worn off they still follow through and finish.

      49. Invest in All Your Dimensions

      We’re not just physical and psychological beings, but emotional and spiritual creatures as well. Successful people consciously work at being healthy and productive on all levels.

      50. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

      To obtain success, it’s important to practice what you preach. Successful people don’t talk about the theory, they live the reality.

      So there you have it, a summary of what I’ve learned from self-help books. But of course, you need to start taking actions so you will get closer to success too.

      More About Success

      Featured photo credit: Juan Jose via unsplash.com

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