Photo Credit: Orianna by Azreen Rasna

As Badgers work through an unprecedented online school year, many have turned to artistic expression as a coping mechanism.


Azreen Rasna, a second-year psychology student at Brock, turned to art to help her handle the heavy, persistent stress of living during a global pandemic and to express her feelings. Art is not only a coping mechanism in times of anguish, but an integral part of Rasna’s self-care routine. 


“To me, art is an escape and a form of expression. [That is an] age-old saying but a saying that makes sense [even today]. When the pandemic consumes everyone’s daily living and turns it into a living hell and when the world is turned upside down, [that is] progressing into the virtual world each day, creativity is what can keep you going,” said Rasna.


Rasna used their creativity to combat the mental strain caused by COVID-19 that students are experiencing, as many are isolated from their friends and family.


“Without a mind that can see things abstractly and bring them to existence and use it as a coping mechanism too, it is [very difficult] if not impossible to keep sane, especially during a worldwide pandemic,” said Ransa. 


Although the pandemic has taken a toll on people worldwide, Rasna saw the silver-lining, as it has been an opportunity to hone in on her creativity and art. 


“As I use art as an escape, the pandemic has made me more creative,” said Rasna. 


Creativity has not only allowed Rasna to work on her craft, but has also allowed her to unlock the health benefits of drawing. 


According to Resources to Recover, a mental health rehabilitation and recovery organization, art as a form of therapy can help people express their emotions (without the pressure to describe complex feelings with words) and is an effective form of stress relief. Studies also show that creating art releases dopamine, a chemical found in the brain that makes humans feel happy. 


Rasna has experienced the real-life effects of art therapy, as she used it recently to work through a difficult time. 


“I try to doodle frequently to put my thoughts into illustrations. Recently I was very worried and stressed out about a personal issue and when I just couldn’t take it mentally, I took a pencil in my hand and sketched away. It was cathartic and the drawing very graphically expressed what I was going through. So to keep practising, I draw or sketch or paint whenever I feel the need to vent,” said Rasna. 


There are plenty of drawing tutorials, art meditations and similar exercises online, all of which are great tools to have in your self-care tool box. Art can be an easy and low-cost way to express yourself and relieve the stress of online school and COVID-19.