Throw that stress onto a potter’s wheel or brush it away with colour. Studies show that we can relieve stress by making art…

If you watch young children scribbling with crayons and splashing colourful paint on paper, you’ll see how carefree and happy they are.

Sadly, along the way to adulthood, we started to believe that we could only make art if we had obvious artistic talent.

Thankfully, studies prove that making art can help us beat stress – and you don’t have to be a skilled artist to benefit.

A Drexel University study found that, regardless of experience or skill level, making art can significantly reduce stress-related hormones in your body.

WIN a R 2,000 Woolworths Voucher

Subscribe to our Free Daily All4Women Newsletter to enter

The researchers found that 75 percent of the study participants’ levels of cortisol (the ‘stress hormone’) lowered during a 45-minute art-making session.

Oh, and talented wasn’t a factor – new to experienced artists benefited equally.

“All children are born artists – the problem is to remain an artist as we grow up.” — Pablo Picasso.

How to relieve stress: Rethink social media

Creativity boosts enthusiasm for life

In another study including 658 people, participants reported feeling more enthusiasm and higher “flourishing” (described as increasing positive growth in oneself) than usual following days when they were more creative.

Art can also help relieve depression.

A Swedish study of severely depressed participants found that, after 10 art therapy sessions of one hour each, participants showed more improvement than similarly depressed patients in a control group.

This is despite the fact that all participants, including those in the control group, were given different combinations of medication, cognitive behavioural therapy, psychodynamic therapy and physical therapy.

How to relieve stress with friends

Creative mediation

If you feel like you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, making art could do you the world of good.

You could sign up for a pottery class or go on an art retreat. Strapped for cash and time? Keep it simple by drawing during work lunch breaks or paint with your kids for a few minutes a day.

Don’t worry about making art that’s good enough to frame. Instead, think of it as a form of mediation. If you do get a piece worth keeping, that’s great, but the real goal is to give yourself permission to let go and have fun.

So, grab your kids’ crayons or pick up that paintbrush and enjoy regular stress-busting creative playtimes.

How to relieve stress: Eat well

Sources: Drexel University, University of Otago and University of Gothenburg 


While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.