Activities that bring joy and pleasure, such as new hobbies, socializing, or exploring nature, are some of the ways that we do to recover from stress-inducing events. They are known to provide a sense of relaxation which, in turn, promotes positive emotions and generally improves our mood, affecting our happiness and well-being.
A July 2023 poll by the American Psychiatric Association discovered that those who engage in creative activities at least once a week revealed to have a better state of mental health and improved mood compared to people who don’t take on creative pursuits.
Here are the five creative activities the study found helped the most people recover from stress and boost overall well-being:
Listening to music
Nearly 80% of participants report that listening to music contributes to relieving stress and anxiety. Enjoyable tunes can balance the amygdala, or the part of your brain that regulates emotions, leading to a more pleasant disposition when listening to these kinds of music. Even when you are not actively listening, background music reduces levels of distress and increases relaxation.
40% of respondents say that solving puzzles helped reduce stress. Puzzle games enhance the function of the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for cognitive functions such as problem-solving, decision-making, and concentration. Crossword puzzles, in particular, can help expand vocabulary and boost learning capacity. According to the PERMA model of happiness, solving puzzles gives the feeling of accomplishment, leading to an increase in positive emotions and a decrease in anxiety and stress.
Singing and dancing
25% percent of people in the poll report that singing and dancing helps elevate mood. Licensed psychologist at the New York State Psychology Association Gayle Berg says these activities provide a safe outlet for expression and release of emotions. Group singing also helps with cognitive health and well-being among older adults and those with mental health problems, lung disease, and dementia. Moreover, synchronized movement when there is live music helps with building memory and perception.
Drawing, painting, or sculpting
Art therapy is known to be a mode of expression, especially in the treatment of mental illnesses, as it can alleviate rising symptoms of depression and anxiety. With this, 24% of respondents say that this can help with relaxation. Liu affirms that art is an avenue to express one’s self in a way that words cannot. Creating art promotes self-expression, which can help people heal emotional trauma and embody self-reflection techniques.
16% of people in the poll believe that writing is a therapeutic activity. In fact, journaling is widely used in mental health treatment. Vaile Wright of the American Psychology Association says that writing about both the positive and negative events in our lives can help us make meaning out of it, using storytelling to encourage us to understand our emotions more and increase self-awareness.
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