By Grayson Meadors, Creative Content Producer
How often do you find yourself scrolling through social media after a long day of Zoom classes or meetings?
Daily, I find myself mindlessly using my phone after spending hours on a Zoom class and doing homework on my computer. Research from the World Economic Forum shows that college students who spend more than 8 hours on screen time are “more likely to experience negative psychological impacts from the pandemic.”
The mental health risks from spending too much time everyday on a screen can be cut down considerably by finding leisure activities that do not involve Instagram, TikTok, or other social media platforms. Many experts recommend going outside or doing physical activity, but I believe that having a creative outlet might be the answer everyone is looking for.
Art is one of the most beneficial ways to relax, express yourself, and get lost in the process of creating. According to Harvard Medical School, “studies have shown that expressing [yourself] through art can help people with depression, anxiety, or cancer.”
For many people, the process of creating something can be intimidating because of fear that they are not “good” at art and fear of judgement. However, everyone can be an artist because the process is what matters, not the end result. This is the hardest part for most people, but if you start small and keep it private, then slowly you can begin to feel creative relief.
The most fascinating part about art is that there are a wide variety of mediums and forms of creativity. One of the easiest ways for you to get started is by keeping a notebook or sketchbook in your bag and bring it with you wherever you go. Next time you are waiting for an appointment or eating lunch, take out your sketchbook and doodle some lines that reflect how you feel, or doodle a plant that is sitting next you. This small action can help ease your mind and give you a brief moment of self-care. Typically, your first reaction is to grab your phone and open Instagram, but try to change it up.
Personally, I enjoy painting with watercolors in my free time to relieve stress, specifically through the different colors I use. When I feel stuck, I like to doodle or paint fruits and vegetables because there are many different types and I do not have to think hard about what I want to paint.
So, next time you have a 30 minute break between classes or you are trying to wind down after a long day, pick up a piece of paper and a pen and scribble how you are feeling. The benefits of putting down your phone and taking care of yourself can reap incredible benefits. If 2020 taught me anything, it is that looking out for your mental health should always be a priority. Inspire yourself with new techniques to relieve stress through art.