Folks, I have anxiety. Like, a lot of anxiety. I’m also highly sensitive, hyper-reactive, empathic, and introverted. I am a walking cocktail of simmering unease, and am always seeking ways to comfort myself. While I can’t always prevent knocks at the door, errands that need run, people who need talking to, or any other basic, mundane aspect of human existence that overwhelms me, I can find things that soothe me.

My latest find? The adult coloring book.

I have found my soothing calling card. These bad boys are a game changer for me. I own five coloring books (and I only started coloring three weeks ago), and have two more on the way. Thanks, Amazon Prime. I also have two sets of markers, and two sets of colored pencils. I have coloring books with markers/pencils downstairs, and coloring books with markers/pencils upstairs—evenly distributed for easy access whenever I feel a spike in anxiety. Which, let’s be real, is all the time.

Even the thought of the need to do something can cause an increase in my anxiety. I am a low energy, quiet, hermit kind-of gal trying to exist in a loud, vibrant, and outgoing kind-of world.

Thank the gods and all that is good for this outlet.

I color for about 2 hours (total) a day right now. Maybe even more than that. I am in a healing phase of burn-out, so am allowing myself this outlet while I try to rest my mind and body. Eventually I won’t have the time to color so much, but right now I do, and you better believe I am.

What is it about coloring that reduces anxiety?

According to the Mayo Clinic, coloring is good for your health. Why? Here’s what the grand poobah of medicine says about coloring:

1.It promotes mindfulness. As a therapist, I was big into teaching mindfulness techniques to my clients. As a person with anxiety, I am big into using these techniques myself. What’s so good about mindfulness? Living in the moment. Living in the moment helps guard against anxiety and stress. Living in the moment prevents dwelling in the past or anticipating the future.
a.Want more info about the power of living in the moment? Read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. He’s my fav spiritual dude of all time.

2.It relieves stress. Who doesn’t need this? It calms the brain which helps to calm the body. The other benefits that the Mayo Clinic touts are: improves sleep, decreases fatigue, decreases body aches (not so much when I stay hunched over for an hour, but I see their point), decreases heart rate, respiration, and feelings of depression and anxiety.

3.It helps us embrace the imperfect. This is particularly helpful to my Type A friends out there. Learn to color outside the lines and keep going. Mess up and start over. Fix the mistake and keep going. The benefits go on and on. It reminds me of the Japanese art of Wabi-Sabi, aka finding beauty in imperfections.

There are other ways to reduce anxiety. For one, turn off the news. It sucks. You can take a walk in nature. Limit social media. Rest. Learn to love yourself. Learn to love the human experience (good and bad, yin and yang).

For me, I’ll do those things, but I’ll also continue to color. Speaking of which, the doorbell just rang, spiking my anxiety. But it also means that my new coloring books have arrived.

Happy coloring!