The holiday season can add an extra layer of stress to our already full and busy lives. We can all use a little extra help this time of year! Here are a few effective and creative ways to bring some peace of mind and ease your holiday anxieties through art.
Change your phone home screen to something green –
The color Green didn’t seem to help the Grinch much but it could help you! According to research reported by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, viewing images with greenery can help calm our nervous systems. Study participants were shown photos of urban spaces and green spaces. Just 5 minutes of viewing pictures of green were enough to induce these calming effects.
This suggests that having some artwork or photos with green vibes on the walls of our home, desktop, and or even our phone’s home screen may help us to feel a little less stressed during the holiday season.
And an added bonus this time of year is that the Christmas tree, garland, and wreaths in our homes are also green! Which brings me to the next tip…
Deck the halls to your heart’s content –
While we might roll our eyes or be a bit jealous of the ambition of those who start decorating for Christmas before Thanksgiving, I think they might be on to something. Research suggests (in a study from the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association ) that actively participating in art-making helps to lower stress.
Undergrad students from a university in central Canada were asked to either participate in an artistic task (view an inspiring image and create art from it) or a non-artistic task (completing a puzzle). The artistic task was found to be more effective in reducing stress and releasing positive emotions.
So have some fun wrapping presents and decorating cookies with extra flare this year!
Visit an Art Museum –
While checking off your Christmas shopping list make a stop at your local art museum. It might just lower your blood pressure! In a study from the Arts and Health, An International Journal for Research, Policy, and Practice, researchers found that spending just 5 minutes in an art museum lowered participants’ blood pressure.
But just beware of modern art! The majority of participants had a lower blood pressure after viewing the figurative art exhibit (landscapes, portraits, architecture) versus the modern art exhibit (abstract, expressionist paintings, geometrical sculptures). While participants reported liking both types of museum exhibits the same amount, blood pressure was only reduced while viewing more traditional artwork. The reasoning for this is said to be that modern art is perhaps more highly stimulating and can elicit more negative emotions.
Unwind with a Coloring Book –
Just a few minutes of coloring may decrease feelings of anxiety and increase mindfulness. A study done at the University of the West of England compared reading with coloring as a way to lower stress levels. Participants reported feeling less anxious and had increased mindfulness after coloring for just 20 minutes.
The study findings also suggested that the coloring task improved participants’ ability to come up with original and creative responses to problems. Trying to figure out how to avoid Uncle Joe’s political rant at Christmas eve dinner? Try coloring first and you might surprise yourself with a solution!
Ashley Hines Lunt, ATR-BC, LPC is an Art Therapist and Creative Counselor with a private practice based in Middletown, CT. Art Therapy can help with stress even after the holidays. To find out more about how Art Therapy can benefit you, feel free to contact us.