Students and faculty “brush their stress away” with painting event in Friendship Circle


Elana Guillory/The Lion’s Roar

Students gather in Friendship Circle for the university’s “Brush Away Your Stress” painting event as a part of Homecoming Week. Participants were provided with canvases, paint, water and paint brushes.

In the midst of a busy semester, a Homecoming event allowed students to go outdoors, channel their inner artists and let their worries fade away.

On Wednesday, Oct. 21, students and faculty participated in the “Brush Away Stress Painting Event.” The event took place at 5:30 p.m. in Friendship Circle and was hosted by the University Health Center, University Counseling Center and Office of Student Engagement.

Free canvases featuring pre-drawn lion templates were distributed along with paint brushes, cups of water and small containers of various paints. While people painted, UCC counselors discussed methods for relieving stress.

Organized by UHC Wellness Coordinator Kayla Noll, “Brush Away” was inspired by painting activities at other universities. Noll saw this event as an opportunity to help students and faculty unwind.

“Painting is a good way for students to relieve stress, so I just thought we could paint a canvas and have it Southeastern-related with a lion on it and have the University Counseling Center come out and talk about mental health,” said Noll. “They learn about mental health and also about relieving stress, and it’s fun, and it’s outside. There’s Eco therapy. I just wanted to tie that in. And with the virus, you get fresh air. It’s just better than being inside.”

Lori Stillwell, an accounting specialist at the Controller’s Office, was one of many attendees that felt less stressed after painting on Wednesday evening.

“For the last month, I have been working on a report, and I finished it this morning at 12:30, and I needed a little break, so I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to come here and paint,” said Stillwell. “This is great. It’s very stress relieving.”

According to Noll, painting can aid in a variety of symptoms brought on by excessive stress.

“If you’re really stressed out for a long period of time, it can contribute to a lower immune system, make you sick more easily,” described Noll. “Your grades can suffer if you’re stressed out, so a lot of things can suffer just from being stressed for a greater period of time. I kind of wanted to do an in-person activity where they can enjoy being outside instead of being in their dorm at a computer.”

Sophomore nursing major Claire Krousel showed gratitude to the UHC and UCC for hosting the event.

“Midterms recently have been very stressful for me,” claimed Krousel. “I do genuinely enjoy painting because that is the way that I de-stress. I like to paint. It was a free event. I’m just so grateful that we were able to do anything for Homecoming because of COVID, and even like Gumbo YaYa, just to have something for the students to participate in.”

Krousel felt her worry about exams dissipate as the event went on.

“I definitely think it’s helping me de-stress,” described Krousel. “I had to take an exam earlier today, and it was very challenging, and the stress and anxiety that I felt—It’s like, gone. I’m literally brushing my stress away.”