Stressed out employees are less productive, and stress can impact employee health – both mental and physical. Art and other creative pursuits are an innovative way to lower every day stress. Art therapy has been compared to psychotherapy in that the creative process taps into a person’s physical, mental and emotional well-being. Creating art or pursuing any other craft can provide a sense of emotional relief, overall better mental health and a decrease in stress.
An article in the Business Insider reported on the benefits of making any kind of art, not just painting and drawing, but also sculpting, dancing, making music and cooking. There are also recent scientific studies that further support the potential mental health benefits of creating art. A 2016 Journal of American Art Therapy Association study found that participants who made visual art for 45 minutes saw a reduction in cortisol, a hormone associated with stress. A Journal of Applied Cognitive Psychology study found that when people doodle or mindlessly sketch while listening to dull information, they are more likely to remember that information and stay focused. In 2015, Gottfried Schlaug, a neurologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, found that people who played music regularly saw improvement in academic performance, language skills and memory.
While many wellness programs focus on the physical well-being of employees, incorporating mental and emotional wellness initiatives can take care of the whole person. Measuring emotional and mental well-being is not as easy as measuring weight loss, blood pressure, or steps taken in a day, however, employees who participate in creative endeavors can be accounted for through lower absences, fewer physical illnesses and higher productivity.
Offering after art classes or hosting social paint parties can be a welcome stress reliever for employees. Consider arranging a cooking demonstration, a sushi making workshop or a dance class to allow employees to recharge the creative areas of their brains. The opportunity to step away from the office and leave to-do lists behind for 30 to 45 minutes can make a big difference in the ability to perform at high levels. Art as therapy is a low-cost way to keep employees’ mental and emotional well-being in check.