Can Art improve a child’s resilience?
As someone who has a passion for art I really hope the creative process and art expression are really manifestations of the drive toward health and well-being. There is no doubt by delving into art-based activities, emotional grounding and relaxation is enhanced. As Louise Bourgeois noted, “Art is a guarantee of sanity”.
A recently published pilot study (Kaimal, Ray & Muniz, 2016) proposes that adults may experience a measurable reduction in their cortisol levels after a 45-minute art making session. Cortisol is often defined as a “stress hormone” that is correlated with levels of stress in the body and what is commonly known as the fight-or-flight response. In brief, the study reports that nearly 75% of the participants had lower cortisol levels after art making than at the start of the session.
The resilience-enhancing capacities of art expression are not found in any one particular art-based activity, but within the characteristics of art making itself and also the relational dynamics between the individual and art making process.
After asking the Stage 3 boys for their thoughts it appears they believe art can self-help and self-sooth.
- ‘I believe art can help if you are going through tragedy as it can take your mind off it.’ (Justin)
- ‘I think art can help you because you can express your sadness on paper using different colours. You can put all your stress on the page.’ (Kyle)
- ‘You can draw your future. Draw what it was like not being stressed. You can picture yourself having fun.’ (Oscar)
- ‘Art can help you with stress as it will distract you from any type of problem you have.’ (Ethan)
- ‘Art is relaxing and releases stress.(Charlie)
- ‘I think art can help you deal with tragedy as it can take you away from what is happening, it calms you down and makes you zoom out from difficult experiences.’ (Saxon)
- ‘Art can help you deal with stress as it could show other people how you are feeling.’(Hugo)
- ‘You can feel happy when you are drawing. You can take the stress away with drawing.’ (Marcus)
Most of the boys realise that the art process can be used as a tool to self-regulate. You don’t need to be talented or an artist to receive the benefits. After analysing their responses, I am convinced the creative process involved in expressing one’s self artistically can help people to resolve issues as well as develop and manage their behaviors and feelings, reduce stress, and improve self-esteem and awareness.
Kylie Bain – Art Mistress