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Making Art Reduces Stress, Regardless of Skill Level

Science By
(George Buid/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
(George Buid/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Even if you’re not a good artist, making art can reduce your overall stress levels, according to research by Drexel University’s Girija Kaimal.

Kaimal, an assistant professor of creative arts therapies at Drexel, examined how art affects hormonal changes related to stress, and found that as little as 45 minutes of creative activity can cut your stress levels down, no matter how much skill or experience you have (or don’t have, as the case may be).

The study saw 39 adults between 18 and 59 make art pieces with supplied materials (including markers, paper, and clay) for 45 minutes. The participants’ cortisol levels, which are linked to stress, were recorded before and after the study, and 75% of them were lower afterward, regardless of their experience or which materials they used.

Kaimal and co-authors Kendra Ray and Juan Muniz were surprised by their findings; as Kaimal explained in an interview with Drexel Now, she thought the effects would be stronger for those with more artistic experience. Kaimal also plans to study the impact on end-of-life patients and their caregivers: “We want to ultimately examine how creative pursuits could help with psychological well-being and, therefore, physiological health, as well.” Whatever their future findings, it’s a strong argument to keep doodling on that napkin, no matter how much everyone else at the table stares.

Read the full study in Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association.