The Importance of Creative Outlets During Isolating Times


A creative outlet is a healthy, easy, and fun way to better your mental health. With schools closed, schedules modified, social distancing, and quarantining, socializing with friends seems like an impossible task. These changes have detrimental effects on students’ mental health and can lead to students feeling isolated and depressed.
Creating something, whether it be visual art, a craft, or even a baked good, can be a simple way to deal with stress, anxiety, or depression. Derek Haverland, a Latin Upper School art teacher, says he “see[s] art as a form of meditation.” He said, “The process of making marks [and] being immersed in a series of actions that require you to look, evaluate, respond, and refine can cause the maker to push out distractions and make you absorbed in the moment.” Mr. Haverland shared that art has helped him through difficult times “more than once.”
Fellow Upper School art teacher Christine Holloway agrees. “Art can be a good way to express your emotions without naming them,” she said. “It can also alleviate anxiety and give one a focus outside of themselves. There is nothing like interacting with materials in the spirit of understanding how materials behave on different surfaces, and a range of application techniques.”
Upper School counselor Jenny Stevens agreed as well, stating, “Artistic outlets can be very therapeutic in general, but [are] now more than ever with the pandemic.” She went into the science behind this therapeutic quality, explaining that creative outlets “can distract us and keep us more mindful and even have health benefits by lowering cortisol levels in our body.” Ms. Stevens added, “A creative outlet is much better than going online to social media when you are bored.”
Senior Betsy Levine, for one, uses art to avoid boredom. She said, “Over quarantine I’ve tried many different creative outlets to fill my time.” One of these outlets, embroidering, stuck. “Over the summer, I got really into sewing and embroidering, going to thrift stores and getting interesting clothing to alter and make my own,” she said. Betsy noted that everyone, not only artistically inclined people, can have fun creating. “Anyone can be creative and create art in their own way.”
Sophomore Matilda Taylor agreed, saying, “I think anyone can enjoy art!”
When asked about possible projects that beginners can enjoy, Ms. Holloway said, “Pinterest and YouTube are a go to for me.”
Betsy recommended YouTube as well, but also suggested talking to family and friends. “I talked to my grandma when I was first getting started,” she said.
Mr. Haverland recommended starting with simple projects or creating things you already know how to make. He said, “What it really comes down to is what someone wants to try. Look at the materials you have already—maybe drawing on plain t-shirts with permanent markers, practicing calligraphy using some motivational quotes.”
Matilda recommended using art as an activity to do with friends. “I think art can be solo or social,” she said. “I love to draw in art classes with friends.”
Visual art isn’t students’ only creative outlet. Sophomore Alena Brandt enjoys baking as a stress reliever. “I have been baking since before quarantine, but during it, I have had a lot more time to spend on it,” she said. Alena has found baking extremely helpful in dealing with anxiety in isolating times. “Baking has been a great outlet for me to forget about what is happening in my life and just focus on one thing. It has been a way for me to relax and destress.”
Similar to Ms. Holloway, Alena enjoys the means as much as the end. “The process of creating something is very calming, and the outcome is always delicious,” she said. Alena also enjoys baking socially, stating, “It is also a social event that is something fun to do with friends.”
The act of creating something is beneficial in more ways than one. Creativity serves as a break from screens, reality, and stress. It can be a fun, socially distanced activity to do with friends outside or over Zoom, and is a great way to escape from day-to-day struggles and anxiety. It doesn’t matter what you make––just that you create something.