Prolonged periods with stress can result in difficulty with memory and concentration, aggressiveness, anxiety, and a risk of developing illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure and depression. This results in a poorer starting point for children to participate actively in and get the benefit of education and communal activities.
It is especially a problem for the development of disadvantaged children, but applies to all children who, for shorter or longer periods, experience crises in their lives, e.g. in connection with a death in the immediate family, divorces or illness.
Researchers have, among other things, detected elevated cortisol levels in the blood of disadvantaged children. The cortisol level is an indicator of stress and affects the body physically and psychologically, with serious consequences for quality of life as a result.
There are several examples of art being used in stressful environments to contribute to a reduction of the stress level, among other places at hospitals and in ambulances.
Art experiences create activity in the brain’s reward system, where positive sensations such as pleasure, happiness and well-being arise.
There is research-based evidence to conclude:
- Artistic activities result in a reduction of cortisol in the blood of disadvantaged children.
- Prolonged stress negatively affects quality of life.
- Artistic activities can reduce children’s anxiety and pain, e.g. in connection with illness and hospital stays.
- Rhythmic and synchronous activities create and strengthen social connections.
Can the Arts Get Under the Skin?
Musikterapi med børn på hospital (in Danish)