Art improves students’ health

John Victory | Banner | Kelsey Whalen, a junior psychology major, spends time in the ceramics lab making a coil bowl to relieve stress and express her creativity.

A student sets down her lab coat as she walks over to her ceramic wheel, ready to get her hands dirty and free her mind from the stresses of her every-day life.

Although some people may not consider themselves artists, expressing themselves creatively by doodling in a note-book or molding Play-Doh can offer anyone numerous mental health benefits.

Some people create art because they want to tap into their creative passions, while others use it as a form of therapy to improve their health, such as reducing stress or bettering self-esteem.

Adriana Cortez, senior forensic chemistry major at California Baptist University, said ceramics help her decompress from her two jobs and 18-unit class schedule.

“I’m not a creative person by any means but when I was able to find my own rhythm and do it at my own pace, it was alleviating,” Cortez said. “Art, in all shapes and forms, encourages a kind of concentration that does not condone stress.”

Having a creative outlet can promote self-reflection, as well. Those who may have trouble voicing their thoughts can use art to express their emotions.

Dr. Erin Smith, CBU associate professor of psychology, said art can be a way to understand how people are feeling.

“It’s really important for children to express them- selves,” Smith said. “Sometimes they don’t have a language to describe what they’re feeling and sometimes adults don’t

have that language, too. This can be a way to open the doors to understanding their experience.”

Smith also said creating art has the ability to generate positive emotions.

“At some level, art evokes (emotions), especially if it is broadly construed,” Smith said. “So it’s not surprising that engagement in the beauty that art can produce can be associated with things like feeling happy.”

Not only can creating art be beneficial but viewing and appreciating artwork can be helpful, as well.

When people look at art, the brain releases chemicals that contribute to positive feelings. This process may induce joy and a sense of wonder. Seventy-three percent of people feel the arts gives them pure pleasure to experience, according to a poll done by Americans for the Arts.

Madison Gallardo, senior biology and math double major, said art helps her feel positive emotions and finds aspects of art in her majors.

“I am a teacher’s assistant for two lab classes and the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Club president, so it could be easy to get overloaded with stress, anxiety and panic,” Gallardo said. “It’s all a matter of balance. But there’s definitely art and beauty in biology, math and structure.”

Students may feel over- whelmed trying to balance life and school so it is important for students to have a healthy out- let to express their feelings.

Art can help stimulate positive emotions, so when college becomes stressful, let the inner–artist out.

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