When I moved to New York a couple of years ago, I threw myself into all the activities one typically does when they move to the city. I saw shows on Broadway, picnicked in Prospect Park and became a regular at my bodega.
I also started to take improv classes, which seemed like one of those New York things to do. For three hours every week, I learned the art of performing comedy without a script. And I found that the classes were helping to combat my anxiety and my tendency to overthink — not just onstage, but in daily life. I used to be shy about speaking up at meetings, for example, but after doing sketches in front of a live audience, it seemed like a piece of cake.
It turns out there are several mental health benefits of performing this art. According to a 2020 study published in the journal Thinking Skills and Creativity, researchers found that doing just 20 minutes of improv a day can increase creativity, well-being and our ability to tolerate uncertainty. Another study from 2018 found that doing improv has also helped reduce social anxiety in adolescents.