The Role of Creative Expression in Reducing Stress

Everyone experiences stress, which is an average human reaction. The human is built in a way that it can experience high levels of stress and give back responses to stress. Your body will react physically and psychologically to stressors. That is anxiety.

Your body adapts to new situations through stress reactions. Stress can assist us in remaining awake, determined, and prepared to fight in times of danger. For instance, if you have an examination coming up, your body may put more effort and stay up longer at night due to stress response. But when stressors persist despite remission or rest periods, stress then becomes a big problem.

Body Reaction during Stress


Your heartbeat, breathing, changes in vision, and other bodily functions are all controlled by the autonomic nervous system. The body is equipped with a “fight-or-flight reaction” that helps it deal with stressful situations.

As time goes on, continuous exposure to stress leads to the activation of the body’s response to stress, leading to the breakdown of the body for some time. Certain symptoms, therefore, manifest physically, mentally, and behaviorally (1). 

What Are the Types of Stress?


There are different types of stress. Some are just physiological; hence they are not harmful while some put the body in harm’s way. Below are the different types of stress: 

1. Acute stress: The form of stress we experience most frequently in day-to-day living is acute stress, which is a relatively brief kind of stress that may be either beneficial or more upsetting.

2. Chronic stress: Chronic stress, which can also result from traumatic incidents and childhood negative experiences, is stress that feels unending and unavoidable, such as the stress of a troubled marriage or a difficult job.

3. Episodic stress: Acute stress that appears to be ubiquitous and a way of life is termed episodic acute stress, and it results in a state of perpetual suffering.

4. Eustress: Eustress is joyful and entertaining. It’s regarded as a healthy form of stress that could help you to grow. It’s connected to adrenaline rushes, like when you’re skiing or racing against the clock.

By way of duration, acute stress is short-term and very brief, while chronic stress occurs slowly, gradually, and for a longer period. Episodic acute stress is a recurrent short-term stress while eustress is usually fun and sometimes, exciting (2).

Symptoms Of Stress


The stress-related symptoms can be physical symptoms or emotional symptoms. The physical symptoms of stress are:

  • Body pains and aches

  • Palpitations and chest pain

  • Exhaustion

  • Headache

  • Feeling of dizziness

  • Shaking uncontrollably

  • Hypertension or elevated blood pressure

  • Muscle pains

  • Indigestion

  • Bloating

  • Low libido or low interest in sexual activities

  • Immunosuppression

The emotional symptoms associated with stress are:

  • Sadness

  • Depression

  • Low mood

  • Feeling of anxiety

  • Panic attacks (1).

Management of Stress

Management of stress is major with lifestyle changes and in complicated cases, medications can be used. Studies have revealed that one of the best ways to deal with stress is through the use of creative expressions.

How Does Creative Expression Works?


Have you previously noticed that engaging in a creative endeavor like acting, performing, painting, or writing makes you feel better? It seems that you’re not by yourself.

Many of us seek out creative endeavors merely because we find them enjoyable but also because of how they make us feel. The arts could serve as a means of relieving stress and perhaps other emotions for certain people. Whatever the endeavor, research reveals that having creative activities is beneficial for us and may additionally improve our health and well-being (3).

It has been demonstrated that discovering creative outlets for yourself has a favorable impact on your immune response. Those with chronic illnesses or those who are always stressed out should engage in creative endeavors. The body’s levels of chemicals that cause anxiety have been demonstrated to drop when people express themselves creatively. In turn, this lessens inflammation.

Furthermore, we now understand that maintaining creativity skills reduces the risk of cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s by keeping the brain engaged and functioning properly.

You can benefit from carving out time for creative activities in many aspects of your life. You could observe that your strongest connections strengthen when you carve out time for artistic pursuits and expression.

This is due to the increased likelihood that you may have fresh or complex viewpoints on other individuals. You could feel more committed to your job or personal obligations and just be able to notice the small details that inspire original thought. It’s also safe for you to express bottled-up emotions and anxieties by using creative activities to communicate your thoughts and emotions (4). 

When we deliberately incorporate our emotions into our work, the act of creating art with our hands helps us express ourselves. So, channeling our feelings into our work—for example, by incorporating strong brushstrokes, bright colors, or other elements for added texture—can help us feel lighter and more in control when we’re getting burdened and off-balance by what’s bothering us.

Because it disrupts the obsessive spirals of negativity that fuel our worry and anxiety, putting our effort into creative pursuits so assists us in emotionally getting out of our way. The outcome? is a piece of art that expresses our emotions and offers us a new angle from which to view the problems that have been on our minds (5).

Forms Of Creative Expressions That Can Help to Relieve Stress


The general definition of Creative Arts Therapies is the imaginative use of artistic media (such as art, music, drama, and choreography) as means for non-verbal and/or sign language, together within a clutching environment, incentivized through an established relationship with the client, in hopes of accomplishing private and/or social treatment goals suitable for the person. 

Differentiating creative art treatments from artistic treatments or practices used in psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, restoration, or medicine is important.

Creative art therapies purposefully employ the arts to bring therapeutic transformation, as opposed to arts interventions, that utilize the arts to provide predominantly artistic encounters with therapeutic benefits.

Creative Arts Therapists are generally licensed by a professional organization for arts treatments and adhere to a predetermined, controlled code of conduct.

Because they enable patients to express emotions creatively, creative art therapies and artistic initiatives are sometimes known as expressive forms of treatment or expressive therapy (6).

The following are the forms of creative art therapies available:

Visual art

The term “visual arts” refers to a broad range of creative endeavors, such as creating ceramics, sculptures, paintings, crafts, drawings, photography, movies, and much more.

Visual art has indeed been demonstrated to enhance the recovery process for the primary caregiver, the bereaved, others with anxiety or depressive disorders, cancer, and noncommunicable diseases patients as well as others who find it difficult to express their ideas and feelings verbally. 

Filling in career gaps, affirming one’s positive identity, reducing stress and compassion fatigue, lowering anxiety and negative emotions, sharpening one’s attention on happy memories, and boosting one’s sense of self-worth are all documented advantages (3).

Beautiful Music

The advantages of playing an instrument should be highlighted. It’s rarely too late to start playing an instrument. And doing so has certain special advantages. As an adult, learning an instrument helps with cognition and coordination.

As your fingers become accustomed to responding to and moving to create the music, it can awaken previously dormant brain regions. Studying an instrument also promotes discipline and perseverance, two virtues we occasionally require being reminded to exercise (4). 

Expressive Writing

Writing expressively enables you to “let go.” It enables you to write openly about your feelings and views. By writing expressively, you suspend any moral judgment. Spelling, punctuation, structure, and flow are not important.

The idea is to simply allow oneself to write. Creative writing has been demonstrated to “give voice” to feelings, moods, and thoughts. It has also been shown to have both short- and long-term advantages, including enhanced general mental and physical health (3).

More than Painting

There are many different methods to demonstrate creativity. You might not enjoy coloring, drawing, or painting. Even properly maintaining a bonsai plant qualifies as a form of creative expression. You might enjoy crafting poems, short stories, or witty blog posts on a subject you are passionate about. 

Crochet and embroidery are two examples of tactile creative endeavors that are extremely healthy for the body and mind. Try collage, blogging, or scrapbooking. If you enjoy cooking, you might even consider developing a brand-new dish from scratch using only natural products. 

Creative Expression Centered on Movement

This type of expression involves actions that link the thought, body, and emotion. Yoga, martial arts, and choreography are all examples of creative expression centered on movement. Play and exploration are accomplished by this kind of inventiveness. 

It pushes you to pay attention to how your thoughts, perceptions, and feelings are interconnected. Improvements in life expectancy, self-image, and perceived health are just a few of the benefits that have been scientifically proven. 

It is a very individualized endeavor that takes many different forms. Try looking for fresh pursuits that pique your interest, boost your mood, and make you happy as your creative faculties begin to develop.

Nobody will have the same tastes as another because everyone is unique. To discover the hobbies you truly enjoy, some trial and error may be necessary. What counts is how engaging in creative activities makes you feel, regardless of any scientifically proven advantages (3).

Aside from the use of creative expressions, there are research methods or practices that help to relieve stress and even prevent stress in the future: 


To begin with, exercise can promote better sleep. Better stress management also results from better sleep. Those who work out more often tend to get deep “slow wave” sleep, which helps rejuvenate the mind as well as the body but doctors are not yet sure why. Just be careful not to work out too shortly before going to bed, as this can disturb some people’s sleep.

Emotions and moods seem to gain from exercise as well. The fact that marijuana stimulates the secretion of several chemicals, notably endorphins, and endocannabinoids, which assist in blocking pain, enhancing sleep, and relaxing you, maybe a significant contributor.

Some of these (endocannabinoids) might be the cause of the ecstatic sensation, sometimes known as the “runner’s high,” that some people experience following lengthy runs. Swimming, running, and aerobics are exercises that can help relieve stress (7).


Eating healthy and balanced food will help to relieve stress and also keep mental health in check. A good nutritious meal will help to boost the body’s immunity, keep the mood in check and decrease an already elevated blood pressure from stress, as well as get rid of other negative aftermaths of stress. Eating too many sugar-containing meals and excess fats will put the body at risk of the side effects of stress (7). 


The cognitive-based therapy, popularly called CBT has been known to be helpful in patients with stress or patients with mental breakdowns as a result of stress. CBT does mindfulness check in helping people gradually get rid of their past negative way of thinking. Another form of psychotherapy that has proven to be helpful is mindfulness-based stress reduction, otherwise called MBSR.


Stress management requires frequent self-care practices to be incorporated into daily life. Explore how to empower yourself to enjoy life to the fullest by understanding the importance of taking excellent care of your body, emotions, and soul.

Take Note of Burnout Signs

Burnout is not far-fetched when one is exposed to continuous stress. Burnout makes one uninterested in normal daily activities. It is best to understand yourself and know when burnout is setting in gradually. It may be a sign for you to take a break and rest.


Medically, there are no specific drugs indicated for use during stress. However, drugs are given based on the symptoms manifested at a particular time. Examples of such drugs are antacids, antidepressants, sedatives, and much more (2).


(1) Cleveland Clinic. (2021, January 28). What Is Stress? Symptoms, Signs & More. Cleveland Clinic.

(2) Scott, E. (2022, May 23). What is stress? Verywell Mind.

(3) GABARDA, A. (2020, November 30). The health benefits of creative expression. UPMC MyHealth Matters.

(4) Mama, S. (2021, June 17). How creativity can help you manage stress (and ways to get creative in your daily life). Source Mama.

(5) Molly. (2022, April 6). The Art of Creativity for Managing Stress – My Independent Living.

(6) Martin, L., Oepen, R., Bauer, K., Nottensteiner, A., Mergheim, K., Gruber, H., & Koch, S. (2018). Creative Arts Interventions for Stress Management and Prevention—A Systematic Review. Behavioral Sciences8(2), 28.

(7) Ragland, L. (2020, November 24). Stress Management. WebMD; WebMD.

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