The unexpected thing that helped me cope with anxiety

At the age of 22, I rediscovered a classic childhood pastime: coloring books. I was about to move cross-country, from Chicago to Los Angeles, and on top of all the up-in-the-air unknowns in my life, I was struggling with both general anxiety and OCD. My anxiety was becoming so all-consuming that I was beginning to compulsively pick at and destroy my own skin.

Whenever my anxiety became too much for me to focus on anything else, or when I became overwhelmed, I felt the compulsive need to fixate on something with my fingers. When I realized this, I took myself to Target, picked up a variety of art supplies, and kept it in my nightstand as a soothing, healthy activity to relieve stress. My college roommate at the time may have given me dubious stares while I was furiously shading a scene from The Little Mermaid in our shared bedroom, but I was having too much fun too care.

I love how when I’m coloring, I’m focusing on that, and just that. There is only one single goal I have: to eventually fill the entire page. Coloring is my meditation. It helps me focus on the now, on the here, and pushes away the cluttered thoughts in my brain.

Coloring isn’t messy. It doesn’t take up a lot of space. It’s not a whole production to whip out and clean up, and you don’t have to travel great distances to get there. It’s convenient, which in itself, is stress relieving.

I personally like to keep my coloring books near my bed. When I’m by myself, and it’s late at night, and there’s no one to talk to – that’s when I tend to get the most anxiety. Within ten minutes of coloring, I’m always much more relaxed.

Coloring has helped bring back my artistic side of me that I’ve always had. I love picking out and planning what color schemes I’m going to use. I love making gradients. I love making my color schemes reflect the moods I’m in at the time. Of course, if you’re suffering from anxiety, the best thing to do is seek out a professional, who can point you toward different treatments. But for me, coloring has been a great tool for me to express myself, but in an artistic way. If you’re dealing with a lot of stress, or simply would like a new way to express yourself, give coloring a shot. Seriously – the six-year-old you will thank you for it.Amanda Pflieger is a 20-something Chicago transplant, currently living in Los Angeles. When not making movies, Amanda enjoys rescuing dogs, going on outdoor adventures, seeing live music, reading non-fiction, and discovering new killer gin cocktails.  [Image via Shuttersock]

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