Creative Relief

We can all agree: It’s a challenging time.

Whether it’s the pandemic, the loss of a loved one, police brutality and systemic racism, political turmoil, loss of a job or business closure, or climate change as seen through the rampant wildfires, hurricanes, and flooding around the world – we’re all in need of some extra support.

We know the arts can help. And we’re not the only ones, as illustrated in the World Health Organization’s 2019 review of over 3,000 research studies that explored the beneficial effects of the arts on health and well-being.

Here, we’re bringing the power of creative expression to you in three steps: Be Inspired. Create. Share. We hope you enjoy this experience!


Be Inspired

Why is inspiration important? Studies have shown a wide range of benefits of being inspired. For example, one study focusing on college students found that students who tended to be more inspired on a day-to-day basis were more likely to set inspired goals and more likely to attain those goals. Psychologists have demonstrated a connection between inspiration and the following positive consequences: mastery of work, absorption, creativity, perceived competence, self-esteem, and optimism.

Let’s get inspired! Select a medium below, and grant yourself a few moments with the creative work before moving on.

‘Contagious’ by Ansel Oommen. Read about Ansel’s artwork here.

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

– Pablo Picasso



Why create? Creating art of any kind has many benefits for mental and physical health and improving the quality of life. Studies have shown that creative expression has positive effects on interpersonal connection, social bonding, and our ability to regular our emotions. Other research has indicated positive physiological impacts such as reducing anxiety, elevating moods, and improving focus from even the most basic creative activities, such as coloring.

Read the prompts below, and choose one that resonates with you. Set aside a few moments to create something in response to the prompt. In the next step, we’ll invite you to share your creation.


For one of the art works above, write a dialogue for what you think is being expressed within the piece. For example, what do you think the dancers are expressing to each other, or Bach’s violins, or the two profiles in Oommen’s collage?


When listening to the music or reading the prose above, close your eyes and focus on the images that come to mind. Consider the images and their meaning, and then choose one mental image to represent your experience and either snap a photo OR draw the image in your mind. 


Slowly start to experiment with moves that express some of what you are feeling. Make choices about the size and fluidity of your movements based on your feelings. Continue until you’ve expressed your emotional response.



Why share? While sharing may feel challenging for many of us, there are many reasons to take the leap! Studies have shown sharing your creative work can increase confidence and self-esteem as well as encourage social relationships and community.

Share your creation with friends and family. Share your creation with online communities – or become part of ours, on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.


How Did That Feel?

In the past year, we’ve all experienced a collective trauma. It’s important to recognize the individual as well as the community-wide impact of this moment and to take the necessary steps for self-care AND community-care. To minimize the psychological effects, stay connected or reconnect to your loved ones, utilize mental health resources if needed, and take stock of what has been working for you. We suggest engaging with the following questions to check-in with yourself and investigate the suggested creative resources.

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More Resources

Crisis Resources

If you are in crisis, please reach out immediately for help. There are several resources for help in a crisis:

  • CALL:  1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24-hour crisis center
  • TEXT: MHA to 741741
  • CALL: 911

Special Thanks

The Creative Relief initiative is partially funded through the generous support of:

AARP Foundation logo
UJA Federation of New York logo
Novartis logo

Thanks to these partnering organizations:

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care logo
Americans for the Arts logo
Thrive NYC logo
The Foundation for Art & Healing