Using the Arts to Relieve Pandemic-Related Stress



Society is coming up on a solid year of various levels of quarantining and social distancing due to the coronavirus. What initially everyone hoped would be a short-term effort that would flatten the curve, allowing things to begin to return to normalcy, proved to be a long-haul effort that is still going on into the new year. As a result, millions of people are experiencing pandemic-related stress that impacts their work lives, home lives, and mental health.

Approaches to relieving stress brought on by living long-term in a world riddled with COVID-19 can include engaging in regular exercise, talking to a mental health professional, or the use of prescription medications. An often overlooked option is taking part in one (or more) of the creative arts. They not only can provide an outlet for built-up stress and anxiety but provide a welcome change of pace from a person’s day-to-day activities. Engaging in an artistic activity may also create a welcome new hobby that you will enjoy for years.

The Art of the Written Word

Creative writing can take many forms, including fictional stories, essays, and poetry. If you are new to trying your hand at writing, find a quiet place in your home and carve out some time for yourself. You can write about anything you want and don’t worry about if it’s necessarily good or not. If you aren’t sure what subject to tackle, consider writing about a memory from your past, like a favorite childhood birthday or a great love of your life who you still think about. 

Short stories and poetry also prove to be great outlets for exercising your creative muscles. Remember you do not have to show your work to anyone unless you want to, which helps reduce the fear about whether or not your work is good. Another excellent writing outlet is journaling. Often the act of purging your pent-up emotions helps counter the ill effects they have on a person. You can either write on a computer in a word document or use an actual pen and paper in a journal or notebook. 

Channel Your Inner Artist

Since ancient man (and woman) first drew rudimentary pictures on cave walls, art has proven to be a wonderful way to express yourself. Whether you want to try your hand at using acrylic paint, watercolor, or sketching with ink, local craft stores and the internet offer many options for procuring supplies. Many artists find the act of turning on some favorite music and sitting down with a sketchbook or setting up their easel provides them with a good chunk of time to let the worries of the day fade away while they escape into the beauty of color and form. 

Dance Like Nobody’s Watching

If you used to make a habit of going out to clubs and bars and dancing, you probably miss being able to do that. Even if you have the proverbial two left feet and want to dance but are intimidated by it, taking advantage of private time at home can give you the outlet you need. Put on a playlist of music that makes you want to move your feet and create a dance floor in a room in your house. You might play a dance instruction video or a scene from a favorite musical (think the high school dance in “Grease”) for inspiration and get your groove on. 

Dancing doesn’t have to be a solo act. Couples can let go of stress via dance and entire families can get in on it. Little kids love to express themselves through movement and music, making it a perfect opportunity to have a family dance party for all ages. Dancing can also provide needed exercise, which can also contribute to stress relief.

Create Wearable Art for Yourself and Others

Many people relax by sitting in a favorite chair and putting their talents to work with knitting, crocheting, or sewing. This type of artistic endeavor can help focus the mind on the task at hand, relieving you from the daily stress that builds up. Hobbies like these build up hand-eye coordination and can be done solo or with others who share your hobby via social distancing or on a meetup app. The bonus is you can create wearable art for yourself or that makes a great gift for friends and family.

Free Advice From the Pros

If insecurity about your skill level for any of these artistic options has a grip on you, remember that the internet provides innumerable options for free instructional videos and classes that help guide people through their first steps. Videos about how to construct a short story, tips for choosing paints, how-to instructions on dancing, and so much more give people the ability to embrace a new artistic endeavor with expert advice they can return to whenever they need it. 

Everyone is experiencing some level of stress due to the coronavirus and the restrictions it imposes on pastimes and hobbies. Turning to artistic activities, such as dance, art, writing, and sewing-related pastimes can help relieve stress, pass the time, and potentially become a new hobby. When a young person is struggling with mental health issues and addiction, it’s important for them to find a way to deal with their issues, including pandemic-related stress. Sustain Recovery understands how to address an adolescent’s underlying issues and point them in the right direction. We offer multiple treatment modalities, including residential, intensive outpatient programs, and partial hospitalization programs. If your client needs a long-term treatment program that includes treatment for mental health and addiction and has experience providing the solution for clients who did not respond to other programs, we can help. Call us today at (949) 407-9052 to discuss how to get through not only the pandemic but all of life with a healthy new attitude and focus on recovery.