I heard reference to a study that said many of us spend 70-80% of our waking hours stressing about something. We stress about our jobs, our families, our health, our friendships, traffic, the environment, climate change, gun violence, world conflicts, upcoming elections, and so much more. And there is no longer a cultural attitude toward a “day of rest.” Remember when we were kids and people took leisurely Sunday drives or spent Sunday afternoons at the park? Now we stress 24/7.

Lately I’ve been hearing people say that “things have never been as bad as they are now.” As an historian, though, I know that’s not true. Things have been as bad as they are now and sometimes worse, and somehow we humans continue to survive and thrive.

One way we do that is by turning to art. We finish a stressful day by watching a sitcom or renting a funny movie. We read books to unwind. We make time to throw pots or paint a picture or sing with the church choir. And when we do, our stress lessens, our chests untighten, our breath slows, and our imaginations tell our worried minds to shut up and let them take over for a bit.

We all know about the rise in art and music therapy programs and the successes they’ve achieved. And we’ve read about the importance of play (for adults and children). But so many people tell me they don’t have time for their art. In this day and age, can you really afford not to make time for your art? In the same way you try to cook nutritional meals or stop by the gym after work, being healthy means making time to create.

Even if all you can squeeze in on a certain day is a few songs in the shower or cutting your kids’ sandwiches into funny shapes or just doodling during that boring meeting at work, do something! Every day. Art can be serious, of course, but it doesn’t always have to be. Sometimes it’s okay to just play. For heaven’s sake, love your body, mind, and soul enough to give them a break. Give them art!

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