I was reading a research study in the February edition of CJON (Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing) entitled “Artist Impact.” The study included an artist that painted in the same area that patients were receiving chemotherapy. They measured how relaxed or anxious patients were, their level of social interaction with their caregivers and other patients in the room as well as emotions they experienced. In one part of the study, the artist would talk to the patients, asking for input on her painting – what color to use, should I add a bird? In another part of the study, the artist painted while wearing headphones, not engaging with people in the room. In both instances, patients had a favorable response. As you can predict, there were more positive responses when she was speaking with people in the room. Patients reported they felt calmer and more relaxed. They enjoyed the distraction and the social interaction it created. They also said they would recommend it others.
I thought this was a great idea. Art and music are proven to have calming effects on people in a wide variety of settings. Try watching a movie that has music playing in the scene, then mute it – we don’t even realize the power and enhancement of the music. We are aware of it, but much of the effect seems to happen on a subconscious level.
It got me thinking about how a person could replicate this study for themselves. One idea is to bring music along to listen to, even just for part of the time. It may have a greater soothing effect than you realize. My other thought was to try something artistic – whether it be something you already enjoy at home, or going to a business that hosts art events. In the Rochester area there are a couple local businesses where a painter leads you through the process or you use a stencil to create an image. Another thing that is popular now – adult coloring. You could buy a coloring book, markers, crayons and color away! Buying new crayons evokes nostalgia for childhood – the sharpened points and the smell too. Coloring is soothing; it’s creative. You need to focus on the task at-hand, which makes it harder to think about your worries. How do you relax and what activities calm you?