I've Started Coloring When I Feel Overwhelmed, and It Really, Really Helps

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My early 20s have felt like absolute chaos. From going to college while also working part-time to graduating and entering the world of full-time employment, there’s seldom been a moment in the past few years where I wasn’t overwhelmed. There is definitely a certain excitement to it all – every day I feel a little bit closer to my goals and that feels great – but I also feel incredibly anxious about the future.

I’ve always been an anxious person, but I’ve struggled through the years to find good coping mechanisms that work for me. I’ve sought out therapy, taken various antianxiety medications, and picked up peaceful hobbies, like painting and yoga; and while all of these things are super helpful, I was still left needing something else when a really bad moment of anxiety crept up. Because, unfortunately, no amount of therapy or medication can fully stop overwhelming moments from cropping up unexpectedly.

There’s something particularly peaceful about coloring, the action itself so soothing.

One time, when I was at home and feeling particularly overwhelmed with work, I noticed a box of crayons sitting on a shelf. On a whim, I decided to take a break from work, grabbed a piece of paper and the crayons, and started drawing. And guess what? It made me feel calmer! There’s something particularly peaceful about coloring, the action itself so soothing. I began drawing and coloring as a way to relieve anxiety and it quickly became one of my favorite hobbies. I discovered adult coloring books with their wonderful designs often aimed at helping relieve anxiety through patterns and peaceful imagery. I started using colored pencils, markers, and paint, and started putting on ambient music in the background to create a truly peaceful setting.

Related: The Simple Breathing Trick That Combats Stress

I’ve even come to find that drawing helps me focus. Once I do get back to my work, I feel much more streamlined and able to concentrate. Drawing actually takes a decent amount of focus, especially if you’re trying to stay within the lines of an outline or design. So by spending time drawing, both calmness and focus translate back into my life whenever I’m ready to get back to my other tasks. I typically spend about an hour coloring each time I do it, but it doesn’t have to be that long – even 15 minutes does the trick for me.

I’ve always found creativity to be a great outlet for anxiety, but I’m grateful that I stumbled upon this simple but effective means of relaxation. At first, it felt a bit silly and childish to draw with crayons, but I quickly realized that there’s no age limit to this activity, and if it helps me calm down, then I’m all for it.

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