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Of the thousands of thoughts the average human has per day, a staggering 95% repeat from a previous day. This monotonous cycle is largely due to unchanging routines at school and work.
For students, it seems that tending to these responsibilities leaves little to no time for creative expression. However, it can greatly benefit your mental health to break up these mechanical thoughts and find an outlet to foster your creativity.
Clinical Associate Professor Dr. Glidden-Tracey, PhD has a specific interest in mindful expression as it relates to mental health.
“I am convinced that having positive creative outlets can not only help to counteract the effects of stress, but also strengthens people’s resilience,” she said.
Glidden-Tracey runs a group dedicated to exploring these methods of expression and their correlation to wellness. The group shares meaningful songs and attends creative events such as cultural drum assemblies.
“We think that musical expression is important and we’re finding that there is a lot of connection between how people process rhythm and how they think and act,” Glidden-Tracey explained.
“What’s remarkable about singing is that in the process of doing it, we activate our reward network,” Wilson said. “Those emotions lead to the release of dopamine, which is the feel-good chemical for the brain.”
But even if you’re someone who doesn’t particularly love singing, just listening to music can be beneficial.
Karl Kranich of Active Minds at Arizona State University explained that “music has been proven over and over to relax the individuals based on its unique link to our emotions…Most people don’t understand that it is the type of music that you listen to that can calm or rejuvenate the mind.”
Engaging in activities that allow you to express yourself and feel emotion stimulates the mind and decreases stress. Similarly, writing and drawing can serve as a form of therapy to help you work through struggles.
Drawing and painting brings new feelings to light and can assist in self-discovery. As you brush color onto a canvas or create imaginative shapes, you are channeling the emotions and thoughts within yourself. Getting familiar with these thoughts and feelings is an important part of understanding and addressing what your needs are.
Although the pressures of university life are ever-present, make time to do the things that make you feel good. Kranich explained that students should “allow control of their lives to be a balancing experience.”
You may have a busy schedule, but it’s worth it to break up tedious routines and cultivate your passions!