Coloring and Anxiety

School Nurses see a lot of anxiety

As a school nurse at a very large high school, to say I saw a lot, is an understatement.   Kids came to me with paper cuts, tummy aches, rashes, headaches, anaphylactic reactions to latex, sprains, strains, dislocated shoulders, sore throats, on and on.  But the predominant condition that stands out most is the anxiety and depression, along with self-injury that I saw.  At first, in my inexperience, I thought these kids were coming to the nurse’s office simply to get out of class or to get attention.   As I grew in my assessment skills and awareness, I realized there was something real happening.

Kids came to me saying that they couldn’t breathe, or they felt as though there were having a heart attack. Heart rate and respirations were elevated, sometimes they were sweating, pupils often were dilated. Something physical was happening.  I came to understand that these “frequent fliers”, as became know as, were experiencing physical manifestations of anxiety.  Turns out, it wasn’t all ‘in their head’.

Anxiety is Real

These kids, often high achievers, sometimes introverts, sometimes the forgotten ones…..they were experiencing a host of conditions related to anxiety, stress and depression. Some were taking medications, some weren’t.  Some had supportive teachers and families, some didn’t. Some were highly pressured by their parents to excel, some had parents who seemed to not care at all.  But what they all had in common, was that they were looking for help.  And they saw my office as a place to get it.

This was long before coloring was a “thing”.  Long before adult coloring was cool.  I got the idea that they needed something to take their minds off of their problems, free them, if only for a few minutes, from their worry, their stress, their anxiety, their sadness, their depression.  I went online and found some mandalas and printed them out, bought some markers and colored pencils, and started in intervention for anxiety.

Coloring is the same as meditation

I watched kids go from total panic mode to relaxation just with the act of coloring.  I watched their personalities flow as they colored. Some were Type A, intricate and colored with perfection, others sketched.  Some stayed well within the lines, others ventured outside the lines.  I kept their work, and they’d come back when they needed to, and they’d finish masterpieces.  I had an entire wall of mandalas.  As word got out, I even had some teachers or staff come and color.

Who knew that I was so ahead of the times. Now, it seems, coloring really is “a thing”!

I’m a member of  a coloring club, and I love it.  If you know someone who might benefit from coloring, you should check it out.   It’s so fun, so relaxing, so gratifying.  You’ll see physical change as you or someone you know goes from fight or flight parasympathetic activation, to relaxation and balance.  For a double whammy, I my essential oils diffuser going with a wonderful blend, and forget about it! Don’t even get me started on the bliss that happens.

PennySue Mueller

Penny Mueller
Email: Penny Mueller
www.pennysuemueller.com

 

 

 

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