This article by Samantha Zabell shares new research in the journal of Art Therapy. Coloring is not just for kids. If stressed Color read on…
The stress-relieving benefits are real
You may think you’re “not creative” or “bad at art,” but a new study from Drexel University says you should head to the craft store anyway. According to new research, making art can significantly reduce stress levels, whether you’re gluing macaroni noodles or painting museum-worthy landscapes.
The results of the study, published in the journal Art Therapy, were not entirely surprising to lead researcher Girija Kaimal, EdD, who said in a statement: “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.” Even people who rarely picked up a crayon experienced the same stress-relieving benefits as those who were practiced in making art.
The researchers studied 39 adults between the ages of 18 and 59, and measured their cortisol (stress hormone) levels before and after a 45-minute art session. Participants were free to experiment with everything from markers to clay, without instruction or direction. Following the session, 75 percent of participants experienced a drop in cortisol levels. The other 25 percent experienced heightened cortisol levels, but Kaimal explained that those individuals were not necessarily more stressed—heightened cortisol levels can also suggest engagement or enjoyment.
There was no significant correlation between skill or materials used and cortisol levels, meaning modeling clay was just as soothing as coloring. But because younger participants consistently exhibited lower cortisol levels after making art, Kaimal believes creative arts would especially benefit stressed students.
If you don’t have a robust craft closet at your disposal, there is a simple way to reap the same benefits without much mess—adult coloring books. You’ve likely read about the craze, which proves these intricately designed books are no longer just for kids. In 2015, 12 million copies of coloring books were sold in the U.S., compared to just 1 million in 2014.
I hope this article has inspired you to bring more color into your life. Bring a friend along when you color it is more fun. My best, Stuart