Have you wondered why coloring helps reduce stress? Have you wondered why it helps you calm down?
As a survivor of extreme childhood abuse I have had to deal with PTSD. Post traumatic stress disorder is a disorder of memory storage and recall. With PTSD a survivor of trauma becomes fixated on the terrifying events from the past. The memories become ever present for you! Always in your face! With PTSD one feels like they can't quit seeing what they so desperately want to forget. It doesn't feel like the past, it feels like it is happening in the present.
With PTSD one can feel like everything in life is a trigger and sets off an episode of flashbacks, which sets off fresh fear. Survivors of abuse walk around in hyper vigilant mode. Never relaxing, never letting their guard down. Most don't sleep well at night because we are instantly alert to any tiny noise. Crowds and loud noise overwhelm us. Holidays are so overwhelming for most survivors of abuse that we wished we didn't even have to go through Holidays.
So how does one get through life with PTSD?
I have taken steps in healing. Learning that the present is not the past. Learning that I am safe now. I have done tons of memory work to heal the past and forgive those who hurt me so much as a child and young adult. I have learned to weed out the lies that came with all the abuse. I learned to tell myself the truth. The truth about myself, about God, about what happened to me.
How do I continue to heal and move forward?
How do I function in life?
I de-stress with drawing and coloring almost everyday.
Coloring is especially beneficial to those who have PTSD because their amygdala — the brain’s center of emotions, emotional behavior, and motivation is hyperactive. Coloring actually reduces the activity of the amygdala. So that's part of the reason why it helps you calm down.
Coloring is a way to relax, let down your guard. It helps one exit hyper vigilant mode! So the more one can relax her mind with coloring/drawing the stronger she becomes. PTSD can feel like a giant and the survivor can feel like an ant up against the giant with no hope. But as one learns to relax and exit hyper vigilant mode, as one learns to tell herself the truth one heals and becomes stronger and at some point the survivor become the giant and the PTSD becomes the ant.
That is how I have learned to deal with PTSD. I have learned positive ways to help me relax and exit hyper vigilant mode. I don't live in the high stress, panic mode anymore. For the most part I am relaxed and at peace. When I am triggered I know what to do to help me calm down, to help me relax, to help me deal with all the flashbacks. I have a system that works well for me, coloring is part of that system. I also pray, I journal, and I draw.
Part of healing from PTSD is learning to develop positive coping skills. You learn to let go of what doesn't work for you. You learn to let go of things that are harmful to you. As you begin to heal you learn to love yourself and take good care of yourself. Coloring is a positive coping mechanism! It is good self care! It says I love myself enough to give myself this time to relax everyday! It says I have worth and value and deserve to be treated kindly.
You would never imagine that something as simple as coloring could have such a big impact, but when you’re talking about people with PTSD who are feeling stressed and isolated and scared — coloring becomes a weapon. It becomes a way to take down the giant!
So get your coloring on... because you are worth it! You deserve it!!