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Survey shows involvement in arts on campus has positive impact on stress

A graphic showing the results from the “Role of Arts in Campus Wellness Survey” asking students how they engage in different art forms. Creative outlets offer opportunities to take a step away from strenuous studies and provide a moment of relaxation. ILLUSTRATED BY BRITTNEY DIETZ/THE STATESMAN

Stress is no stranger to college students, especially at a research institution like Stony Brook University. Nationally, over 55% of college students report experiencing chronic stress, and six out of 10 students endure acute stress according to Inside Higher Ed.

Arts engagement is a creative option to help relieve and manage stress. From painting and dancing to music and writing, engaging in the arts has been shown to reduce stress levels and boost overall wellness. 

The Statesman decided to investigate how arts engagement could be linked to student wellness. Over the past two weeks, The Statesman sent out a Google Form to 11 Stony Brook University students from different majors and years, asking them questions regarding their artistic involvements as well as their stress levels. 

The first part of the mini-survey gauged overall student artistic engagement. Nine out of 11 of respondents reported active participation in artistic activities such as painting, music and theater; the remaining two respondents indicated participating occasionally. Notably, no respondents reported abstaining from artistic engagement entirely.

Shifting focus to how often students go to campus events and engage with the arts, six of the respondents participate in arts activities several times a week and two partake once a week. The other three respondents indicated that their involvement is relatively infrequent. 

In the second part of the survey, participants were asked about the potential impact of their involvement in creative outlets on their stress levels. Every respondent rated their engagement with such activities as having a positive impact, with four indicating a positive effect and seven indicating a very positive effect on their emotional and mental well-being. Unsurprisingly, 10 of the respondents reported experiencing reduced stress as their involvement in artistic activities increased.

A graphic showing the four questions asked in the survey and students responses to it. Through involvement in the arts and on campus, students are developing an emotional and academic support system they need to grow in college. ILLUSTRATED BY BRITTNEY DIETZ/THE STATESMAN

“I struggle with mental health issues, but after auditioning for the Stony Brook hip hop dance team, Deja Vu, I have felt a tremendous change in my mental health,” one respondent commented. 

The survey concluded by asking respondents to share their personal experiences with stress and forms of artistic expression. The consensus among respondents was apparent: actively engaging in the arts or attending events hosted on campus is associated with reduced stress levels and enhanced mental well-being. 

“I attended an LGBTQ+ Alliance craft night and found that it was very relaxing after a week of classes,” another respondent reported. “I also find that knitting alone (or with friends) has the same effect.” 

Some respondents even highlighted their involvement in arts in helping them establish new connections and develop a sense of community at Stony Brook. Student involvement goes beyond improvements to one’s well-being and new connections. It has been linked to a multitude of benefits besides lowering stress levels, including improved academic performance and personal growth. 

Stony Brook’s division of student affairs reported that 2022 to 2023 club e-board members had an average cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.5. Students who feel a strong connection to their school and build a community on campus is a “key predictor” of academic success. Through involvement in the arts and on campus, students develop an emotional and academic support system they need to flourish in college. In addition to academic support, students are able to enhance their social skills by building connections with others around them.

“If I hadn’t gotten involved in clubs and in campus events, I probably would have been super depressed and not as happy as I am now,” one respondent said.  

These findings underscore the significant role that both engagement in the arts and participation in campus events have on enhancing the wellness of college students. Creative outlets offer an invaluable opportunity to take a step away from strenuous studies, and provide a moment of inner tranquility — all while having fun in the process. 

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About the Contributor
Jenna Zaza, Arts & Culture Editor
Jenna Zaza is The Statesman's Arts and Culture Editor. She is a second-year journalism major with a minor in Korean studies and on the fast-track MBA program. When she is not writing, she is probably reading a book with a cup of coffee in hand.
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