In the most recent survey done by the Australian Psychological Society, 35 per cent of Australians reported they had significant levels of distress in their lives, and 26 per cent reported above normal levels of anxiety.
While this sounds bleak, there has been scientific evidence to show that creativity helps decrease levels of cortisol, the hormone the body produces to deal with stress.
As such, there are several ways to alleviate stress and you can actually have a lot of fun while doing it.
1. Arrange some flowers
There are few things in life that brighten up a room, or a day, more than flowers. However, all too often flowers are reserved for special occasions. Fun fact: other than looking and smelling delightful, flowers can also reduce stress. Evidence was first reported by scientists in Japan, showing that inhaling certain fragrances can reduce stress levels. But it’s not just the act of smelling that alleviates stress, it’s also simply looking at a happy, bright rose that can bring a smile to a face and a decrease in tension.
Flower arranging, a fantastic way to calm the mind and fight the stress fiends, actually has the power to put our minds and bodies into a parasympathetic state, which manages the rest and digest response. While we naturally move into this state many times throughout the day, being overly stressed makes it harder for this to happen instinctively. Even if you pick up some flowers from the local market, physically arranging them can encourage a sense of peace and helps reset your mind.
2. Get creative with a colouring book
There was method to the madness that was the adult colouring in book phase. And the health benefits of colouring in cannot be ignored. Think about how zen kids are when they are colouring. The concentration and the colours seem to calm their minds, and put them at ease. So why should kids have all the fun? Colouring in actually generates wellness and stimulates the brain, especially relating to motor skills, our senses and our creativity. Many psychologists have said that colouring in relaxes the mind, specifically the part of our brain that is more susceptible to stress. Simply speaking though, colouring helps to destress because we focus on the motion, the colours and the activity rather than our worries. Other than that, it also brings out our imagination and takes us back to our childhood, a time less about stress and more about muddy shoes and freedom.
3. Get gardening
Whether you’re planting a whole new garden or just tending to some pot plants on the balcony, gardening has been proven to alleviate stress and anxiety, and lighten a person’s mood. There are a number of reasons for this. First, being out in the sunshine releases serotonin into the brain, which keeps our brain balanced. Second, the fresh air helps to energise the mind and body. And finally, the mental focus required has great power in affecting our mood. Just like colouring, you’re focusing on something else, and giving your brain a chance to rest and relax. Whether it’s vegetables, flowers, herbs or some simple pot plants, focusing on the garden is a fantastic way to relieve symptoms of stress.
4. Get crafty with paper
Whether it’s origami, paper cut-outs, paper mobiles, applique or paper chains, getting crafty works wonders for tension. Just like the others, using your hands and focusing on a specific activity diverts focus from the anxiety produced by stress. Another element to this, of course, is the fact that you’re trying something new. And while this can seem scary at first, as you build upon your skills, your confidence will rise. In time, you may find this confidence seeps into your everyday life and work, which in itself, helps to alleviate stress and concern.
5. Get messy with slime
It sounds messy, and it is messy, but slime can also be exceptionally therapeutic. Making slime can be beneficial in itself but once you have the slime in your hands, playing with it can also provide relief from feelings of stress. The sensory and tactile elements of creating and playing with slime are calming and comforting. In addition to this, slime belongs to a group of toys and stress aids called fidget widgets which help to ease stress through distraction.
Imagination, playfulness, constructive use of the mind – all of these things go a long way to alleviating stress. So, head outdoors, pick some flowers, colour in, smell the roses and get crafty. I can assure you, it will work wonders.
Yvette Timmins is an award winning Australian florist, and the CEO and founder of Bloom College, who is innovating the floristry and well being industries by leveraging technology to educate students on the positive energy of flowers. By combining a range of online and offline workshops, courses and an app, Yvette is taking the floristry, health and well being industries by storm through her unconventional belief that flowers play a pivotal role in the mission towards self fulfilment.