Artists for the Earth

Stressed out? Art can help us get through the coronavirus pandemic

The world is stressed out by coronavirus. 

According to a recent survey, nearly half of Americans are anxious about contracting COVID-19, and four in 10 Americans are worried about getting seriously ill or dying from it. Businesses are shutting their doors, markets are falling and we may be headed toward a global recession

We shouldn’t feel too hopeless, though. There are simple tasks — like maintaining a regular schedule, getting a good night’s sleep and eating healthy — that help fight feelings of depression, stress and vulnerability. 

This is also a great time to develop more eco-friendly habits and reconnect with the outdoors, maybe through a good nature book or a hike.

But, lately, a growing number of people are getting even more creative with their coping methods: They’re making art. Photography, music, painting and drawing are keeping people busy and distracted from the stresses of COVID-19. 

Music, in particular, has always brought people together, especially in difficult times. Songs are helping neighbors in Italy and students from Berklee stay connected during this pandemic.

And art doesn’t just unify us — it physically benefits us, too. Studies show that spending just 45 minutes on an art project can relieve stress, strengthen critical thinking skills and improve and sustain memory

Katie Wood, Earth Day Network’s conservation and biodiversity manager, paints using acrylics and oil.

“The science behind [art to combat stress] is really strong. So, I have a sort of scientific faith that what I’m doing is going to help me,” said Katie Wood, the conservation and biodiversity manager at Earth Day Network. “When I’m looking for a night to escape a little bit, art has been it. I sing or play guitar, and I paint.”

Wood’s pieces focus on the Earth – often including botanical and marine landscapes.

But don’t worry if you’re not the best or most experienced artist. These relaxing benefits are felt in artists of every level — from amateurs to professionals. 

“I’m not an artist, but it’s something I can do to get myself out of a rut,” Austin Downs, Earth Day Network’s global cleanup coordinator and a rookie watercolor painter, said. “I’ve got my set up… and I play classical music while I’m doing these master strokes. Of course, they’re awful, but it’s nice to have that personal time.”

Austin Downs, Earth Day Network’s global cleanup coordinator, paints on the subject of the Earth, too – these are wavelengths.

Neurobiologist Semir Zeki found that just viewing art causes joy, similar to the sensation of falling in love. Viewing art also relieves mental exhaustion in the same way the outdoors does — walking in nature, losing oneself in music and admiring art directly influence health and life expectancy

So, even without our daily dose of nature — art can help. 

Better yet, artwork focused on saving and appreciating the planet can make a real difference. Earth Day Network’s Artists for the Earth campaign connects artists, art organizations and the public to engage on environmental issues. 

Through paintings and songs, you can inspire and encourage others to take action by voting green or fighting for conservation. No matter how far apart we are, art can help us relax and bring us closer together.

Register as an Artist for the Earth and remember that we won’t shut down just because we’re stuck inside. The 50th Anniversary of Earth Day will be the largest online mobilization in history. Show your support and stay updated on the environmental movement.