Art, creativity seen as stress relievers


IMLAY CITY — Jessica Bostian, Ruth Hughes Memorial District Library’s Technical Services Coordinator, will be honored on Feb. 24, for helping educate the public about how stress and anxiety impact one’s emotional and physical well-being, particularly since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, whose variants continue to affect the physical and mental health of millions of Americans and others around the world.

Bostian recently applied her creativity to a local project designed to enlighten and remind local residents that they are not alone.

The artistic project led to a collaboration with Frank Bublitz, Creative Arts Specialist with Lapeer County Community Mental Health (LCCMH).

The project caught the eye of the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, who on Thursday, Feb. 24, will present Bostian with a “Special Tribute” award from the Michigan Legislature, acknowledging her efforts to educate the community about mental illness on behalf of LCCMH.

Ruth Hughes Library Technical Services Coordinator, Jessica Bostian, is being recognized by the State of Michigan for her and the library’s efforts to educate the public about mental health.

It was in late 2021, that Bostian envisioned hosting a “traveling art exhibit” at Ruth Hughes to visually document how the pandemic and other stressors have and continue to impact our lives.

“I believe it’s important that we all take stock of our own mental health,” Bostian said. “To combat the stressors in our lives, we need to find some creative, safe and healthy outlets.”

In her case, it was to bring needed attention to community mental health issues by displaying the works of local artists at Ruth Hughes Library.

“It was a great opportunity to acknowledge the transformative power of art, and also the fantastic services offered by our local organizations.

“These art pieces are great examples of the benefits of creativity in improving and addressing one’s mental health.

“Several of these artists revealed through their art, how engaging in painting, drawing and other creative ventures can be helpful.”

Bostian alluded to LCCMH’s mission statement which focuses on “recovery, hope, choice, health, and fulfilling one’s dreams.”

“Art is a fantastic medium that can help achieve these goals,” she continued. “The pieces displayed in this program were great examples of the benefits of creativity on improving and/or addressing one’s mental health.

“Several of the artists communicated through their pieces how engaging in painting, drawing and other creative ventures allows them to express themselves, to escape everyday life, and to use a safe, healthy outlet for combating stressors.”

Bostian noted that she applies these and other endeavors to her own life as a way to relieve stress.

“In addition to art therapy,” said Bostian, “I personally use baking and hiking to express my creativity and to relieve stress and be proactive about my own mental health.

“I find that by using creative outlets, I am able to hyper-focus on tasks, which helps me compartmentalize other areas of my life.

“By doing so, I can tackle projects, problems or goals individually, rather than be overwhelmed by everything at once.

“No matter your personal situation,” Bostian said, “everyone has experienced new and increased forms of stress and anxiety due to the pandemic.

“It’s important to remember that local organizations like LCCMH have trained professionals ready to assist you and help you meet goals and better your situation.

“Art therapy is one of the ways one can use to work toward and achieve a positive mental health balance.”