A student’s art corner

Let’s give thanks for creative outlets

As the research papers and exams keep piling up this holiday season, I find myself increasingly thankful for my creative outlets. If I couldn’t sit down for 30 minutes each day to practice guitar or work on a short story, the stress of finals surely would have eaten me alive by now.
And that stress is no joke, as I’m sure all you students out there are well aware. According to the American Institute of Stress, eight in ten college students “experience frequent stress.” With everything from classwork, to internships, to extracurriculars, to attempting to have a social life, it’s really incredible that we manage to juggle so much.
On the other hand, it’s also concerning because all that stress can have serious consequences. In 2018, a study at Harvard Medical School showed that “stress exposure was strongly associated with mental health diagnoses, self-harm and in some extreme cases suicidality.”
So how do we combat this? I mean, other than the laughable notion of just being “less involved?” The answer, my friends, is creativity. While stress may lead to dark and gloomy thoughts, creativity does just the opposite. In fact, it replaces those negative emotions with positive ones, and can even lead to a longer lifespan, according to a study in the Journal of Aging and Health. For this reason, we should not only appreciate our creative outlets but purposefully set aside time for them.
But don’t just take a random scientist’s word for it. Take the word of Junior Arianna Fredrickson, who likes to play trombone in her spare moments.
“Music allows me to let go of my stress and just live in the moment while doing something I enjoy,” Fredrickson said.
Creativity offers us a precious moment of relaxation in a storm of assignments and responsibilities, but that’s not all. It also allows you to get to know yourself and the world around you a little better.
When you create, you are in control. Instead of collecting ideas from everyone else and compiling them into a research paper, you become the world builder, the creator. As a result, whatever creative piece emerges, whether that be art, music, writing or something else, is completely and utterly you. In this way, creativity allows you to reflect on yourself and how you view your surroundings. It is truly a moment just for yourself.
According to Junior Kendall Harvey, this is exactly why she uses her freetime to draw or knit.
“It is relaxing to take some time for myself,” Harvey said.
Furthermore, by requiring you to express yourself in such a thoughtful and complete way that exposes you to the world, creativity can generate self-confidence. In your vulnerability, you become powerful.
As such, creativity offers countless benefits to the creator, but it can also serve outside purposes, too. For example, a song or a drawing created for someone special makes them feel loved and valued, plus they get to know you a little better through your art. There’s just something irreplaceable about putting a piece of yourself into a gift for someone else.
Creativity can also serve the purposes of groups and organizations. As a social media intern for CICE and the publicity coordinator and co-President for American Cancer Society at Gustavus, Harvey is proud of how her creativity aids those organizations.
“These roles allow me to be creative in my social media posts in order to help these organizations to gain awareness,” Harvey said.
Creativity is healthy for you and for the world around you, and there are plenty of ways to do it. If you don’t already have your preferred creative outlets, or even if you do, try something new. Buy a small, blank canvas and some paints on Amazon, and try your hand at painting. Or maybe take up a new instrument, or write your first short story. The possibilities are endless.
Creativity offers us a priceless moment of pause, a moment to breath freely without the burden of countless responsibilities weighing on our shoulders. That is a gift, and it’s right at your fingertips. You just have to make time for it.

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