The Simple Nighttime Habit That Has Helped Ease My Stress and Improve My Sleep

Getty / JGI/Jamie Grill

Can you remember the last time you colored in a coloring book? Before the pandemic, I had probably only colored a handful of times in adolescence and adulthood. In my mind, it was something I had outgrown. Even after I learned about the stress relief benefits associated with coloring, and though I enjoyed it the few times I tried it, I never really made coloring a habit.

That is, until 2020. Over the years, I had learned to manage my anxiety and had it under control with the help of my family and therapist. But once COVID-19 struck, I realized that maintaining control was going to require me to adopt new habits.

Many people recommend reading a book before bed to wind down and prepare for a good night’s sleep, but some nights my anxiety was so high I couldn’t concentrate or process what I was reading. My mind would race 1,000 miles per minute, and I’d find myself reading without really reading. So, I decided to try coloring before bed, and let me tell you – I was pleasantly surprised. Not only is it relaxing, but it’s also something I look forward to. I turn on my essential oil diffuser, put my phone on Do Not Disturb mode, turn on some music, and begin coloring without worrying about the end result. I’ve learned to simply enjoy the process.

Related: I Have an Anxiety Disorder – Here Are 5 Ways I’m Coping With This Tumultuous Year

Now I end my day with a sense of tranquility. The quality of my sleep has improved, and as a result, my anxiety has decreased. If I begin to feel stressed or anxious during the day, I give myself about 10 minutes of coloring to help me relax. I even gifted my best friend a coloring book for her birthday because I’m a true believer in the positive effects it can have on your mind. In addition to the mental health benefits, it’s also sparked my creativity, making it easier for me to think of new ideas.

Coloring has been shown to help ease stress and promote relaxation, at least in the short term. There’s a reason adult coloring books have become so popular! But even if coloring isn’t your thing, I encourage you to find a creative outlet you enjoy. Don’t worry about whether you’re good at it or not, and simply give yourself the chance to explore. Your mind will thank you for it.

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