A Preliminary Case Study of the Need for and Value of Arts Exploration in Business to Help Alleviate Stress and Helplessness
In December 2019, I hosted a meditative art journaling workshop for my organization, utilizing watercolor paint; colored pencils; markers; collage materials such as old newspaper, magazines, and coloring sheets; creative writing; and mark-making. The act of (or the goal of) the art journaling exercise was to assist participatory individuals in reducing stress and anxiety by offering a healthy forum in which to release frustrations, insecurities, and fears. During the two-hour session, participants were encouraged to talk to their neighbors, to explore the feelings their art might bring up within themselves, and to fearlessly and shamelessly accept the emotions that might arise without warning.
Although artistic activities such as art journaling have historically been considered leisure activities, it is my opinion, and there is research to support, that arts-based learning offers valuable benefits when used appropriately within business settings. According to the journal article, “The Power of the Arts in Business” by Daniela Carluccia and Giovanni Schiumab (Journal of Business Research 85 (2018) 342–347):
“In the current business landscape the arts in business can be viewed as a cornerstone for the evolution of management mindsets and systems. Indeed, the arts constitute a privileged terrain where the rational principles of scientific management can be integrated with the emotional traits of human nature. The arts have the power of affecting organizational aesthetic experiences and properties. They can speak directly to a person’s emotive mind. Their integration in management systems allows to handle and value emotional and energetic dynamics in organizations and to drive people’s development and engagement.
Through arts, it is possible to manage those organizational human specific dimensions, such as passion, emotions, hope, moral, imagination, aspirations, and creativity, both at individual and organization level, that in today’s complex business landscape can build new differentiating competitive factors.”
“This was a great program and Carolann was a fantastic instructor. Would love to see this repeated.”
“Carolann taught a wonderful class. I’m glad it was offered for us, and the time was perfect. I particularly liked how it was structured where Carolann led us and guided our journaling and then we had free time to really work on our projects. Thank you for providing this.”
“I wish I could have participated. I hope Carolann can teach it at some other time. I was listening to her, but I just didn’t have the time to take the class yesterday.”
I began art journaling almost daily following a lengthy hospitalization and illness. I found that my anxieties and fears began to overwhelm me, sometimes with no reason or cause, and that I was unable to call upon my past abilities to manage issues with my innovative problem solving skills. After extensive research, and trial and error in my own artistic journey (which is still – and forever – ongoing), I began sharing my knowledge with friends and colleagues who expressed to me the same idea of helplessness, anxiety, and overwhelm that I had felt prior to my beginning this practice.
I hope to be able to teach this class again, and in the future I will be working to collect the feelings and emotions both prior to and following the session from willing participants.