Students alleviate struggles during pandemic through art, self-care

During the pandemic, many have struggled with their mental health and with learning how to cope with new challenges. According to the CDC, teen mental health visits at emergency facilities from March 2020 until October 2020 increased by 31% in comparison to 2019 numbers. 

One way to relieve stress is with art therapy, which has a multitude of benefits and provides a break from the real world, according to RTOR. The feeling of not having authority over your own surroundings can be amended through the control derived from art creations. 

“Music is definitely a form of self-care and it’s a good outlet for all of my emotions,” sophomore Chloe Wong said in a Zoom interview. “I can usually find a song that parallels my mood so I can release everything that’s inside of me.”

Many students, like Wong, partake in different art forms as a way to cope with distress during the pandemic. Wong is a pianist, flute player and singer. She carries her passion for music in school activities by participating in marching band as well as the wind ensemble. Having music as an escape has helped her overcome mental health obstacles, Wong said. 

In fact, research shows that music positively affects parts of the brain that control movement, mood and memory, according to the American Association of Retired Persons. It can improve the quality of sleep, lessen stress and increase critical thinking skills. Additionally, sound waves that music produces release dopamine as nerve impulses travel through the brain that music helps to boost your mood.

“When I’m dwelling on something I shouldn’t be dwelling on, music becomes a good form of distraction,” Wong said. “It’s something that just takes my mind away from negative thoughts.”

Combining profit with passion, sophomore Ofri Karni created Nails by Ofri, a press-on nail business that expresses her artistic hobby while making others feel confident during the pandemic when dressing up to go out is not a norm, Karni said in a Zoom interview.

“Having people get to wear my art and sharing my art with others [is a great feeling] because I love painting and [doing creative things],” Karni said. “But [for] nail art specifically, people get to show them off and get compliments, [which] makes me feel really happy.”

Since she was young, Karni said nail art and painting were her primary passions, which led her to experiment with nail art on other people’s nails prior [to] the pandemic. In July, Karni said she decided to expand her hobby into an actual business. 

“I know nail salons [are] not always open and some girls can’t always afford it,” Karni said. “I feel [press-on nails are ways] to feel good without paying [too much and] you can always wear [them] whenever you want.”

Sophomore Melody Huang said in a Zoom interview that she implemented makeup into her self-care routine as a way to improve her mood. Huang started wearing makeup about two years ago and said she feels more confident when putting it on.

“Self-care is important because if you’re not in the right mindset to do anything,”  Huang said, “like care for yourself, [then] you can’t do anything well.”