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Coloring To De-stress: Analyzing The Importance of an Outlet

Background:

The purpose of my catalyst conference is to spread awareness to the stress and anxiety that stems from high school. This year especially has taken a toll on a lot of student’s mental health. At our school the motto is to keep going until you can’t and even when you can’t, you still can. Everyone competes with each other to have the most difficult schedules, the best grades, and to see who is the most stressed out. Students are depleting their own mental health when competing with others. I wanted to find ways to ease some of the stress that high school students face. I am trying catalyze change in high schoolers. The education system currently in place makes it difficult to maintain a healthy mental state. My goal was to promote an outlet that I personally found helpful. I wanted to create a way that when students get overwhelmed they know of this outlet. When I was in Freshman year, I discovered coloring as this outlet. I found that even if you are not “good” at it, it can still feel therapeutic. It takes me away from my stress and allows me to focus on one task that is low stakes and relaxing. My goal is to promote the importance of having an outlet in the midst of our busy, stressed lives.

About Coloring:

Rising in popularity, Adult coloring books seem to be a new fad. But after seeing so many books stocking the shelves of stores, I have to wonder, are coloring book just simply a fad? Or do they really have the ability to bring relaxation to the consumer? After coloring myself, I found it to actually be very effective in decreasing my stress levels. The combination of working towards a goal with no pressure seemed to be just enough to hold my attention, yet decrease my stress levels. When researching for this project I found that many other people agreed with me. An article CNN did on coloring states that “Coloring with a goal and a design to complete can be more therapeutic and relaxing than just doodling” and that “Coloring definitely has therapeutic potential to reduce anxiety, create focus or bring about mindfulness”. I decided to put this information to the test on students who attend my high school. So many students face hours of homework and tests to study for after school that can lead them to be very stressed. I wanted to see if having an outlet for this stress would help them balance it all. I reached out to 7 friends and asked them to color for 30 minutes after school. They took they’re stress levels before they colored and then after using a scale of 1-10. (1 being not stressed at all and 10 being extremely stressed). The results are below.

Here is a video with the students who colored speaking about their stress levels and their experience with coloring:

Conclusion:

Throughout this project, I learned that having an outlet for one’s stress is very important. Coloring can be this for some people. Coloring can be a way to take a break and focus on something that has nothing to do with your everyday stress. No matter if you use coloring as an outlet for your stress or other methods, having an outlet is very important. As high schoolers we balance school, social life, and lots of other factors and it can every difficult. Finding ways to get you’re mind off of this stress is key.

Here is a poll where you can answer questions about your stress outlets!

Sources:

https://www.cnn.com/2016/01/06/health/adult-coloring-books-popularity-mental-health/index.html

https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/5-ways-to-de-stress-and-help-your-heart

https://shop.crayola.com/color-and-draw/colored-pencils

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COMMENTS: 18
  1. April 26, 2019 by Henrietta

    I really liked your project and was wondering if you think that different art forms would have similar de-stressing effects?

    • April 30, 2019 by Abigail.Dutta

      Thank you so much! One thing I found in my research is that coloring is very popular because people find it relaxing to be guided and have lines with a goal of what to color. That being said, I really think it depends on the person and I think other art forms could be effective too!

  2. April 26, 2019 by Natalie Bauder

    Great Job! I liked your idea for this project. I totally agree that coloring can help to de-stress. I love coloring and it has really helped with stress from school, and helped when I had a concussion.

    • April 30, 2019 by Abigail.Dutta

      Great Job! I’m so glad you had a similar experience with coloring. I find it is really helpful too.

  3. April 26, 2019 by William.Porto

    Great presentation! I had never thought of using coloring as an outlet to relieve stress, but it is a great idea. A calm, peaceful activity you can do basically anywhere. What sparked your interest in coloring as an outlet?

    • April 30, 2019 by Abigail.Dutta

      Thank you so much! I found I liked coloring because I have always been interested in the arts and when I tried the coloring book fad, I found it really helpful. I really like to draw, but I find even people who don’t like art like coloring too.

  4. April 26, 2019 by Lucy.Fitez

    This is a really great presentation! Although, I was wondering, what other activities have been found to help de-stress? Are they pretty much all art-related?

    • April 30, 2019 by Abigail.Dutta

      Thank you so much! A lot of other activities can be helpful to. For example, some people love to workout when they are stressed or others find watching TV a good outlet. I think fi you find an activity that makes you less stressed, anything can be an outlet.

  5. April 27, 2019 by Maddie Hatfield

    I loved this presentation! I did my Catalyst Conference on colors as well! I thought it was really interesting to see the results of the stress experiment. I wonder what else coloring can help with mental health-wise?

    • April 30, 2019 by Abigail.Dutta

      That’s awesome! Coloring is known to decrease anxiety, but I am not sure about other mental health disorders. I can see how people would use it to help symptoms of mental health disorders though.

  6. April 28, 2019 by Lizzie Nash

    Hi Abby! I love the idea of this project! I think it something we can all try and hopefully something that will help bring our stress levels down! I learned so much from your presentation and I plan on trying it for myself! I think you did an amazing job with this presentation!

    • April 30, 2019 by Abigail.Dutta

      Thank you so much, Lizzie! I’m so glad and you should definitely try it!!

  7. April 29, 2019 by Yasmina Haddad

    Your comments on the mental health atmosphere at schools are extremely valid. The competitive college application process translates to unimaginable levels of stress among high school students. Coloring is such a great outlet, and your data proves it really works. Great presentation!

    • April 30, 2019 by Abigail.Dutta

      Thank you so much, Yasmina. I agree with you. Going through the college process, myself it is incredibly stressful. Coloring can be a great outlet.

  8. April 29, 2019 by Sarah Eichler

    I think this is a really cool project! My school actually put up a big coloring sheet in one of the hallways for people to use whenever they were stressed. It definitely seemed to help, and I know coloring helps me destress sometimes. Do you think that coloring can help anyone destress? Are there some outlets that are better than others?

    • April 30, 2019 by Abigail.Dutta

      Thank you so much, Sarah! That is a super cool idea for your school. I wish my school did something like that! I’m so glad you like coloring.

  9. May 01, 2019 by Frieda

    Hi! I really like your project. My sophomore year health classroom had coloring sheets students could color during class. Do you think there is value in school providing coloring materials? And how could we implement that?

  10. May 01, 2019 by Erika Homan

    I really like this project, I think having an outlet and spending time doing things that you find relaxing makes such a difference especially with the stressful life of a student! The table you showed of stress levels before and after coloring was also very informative.
    What do you think it is about art that makes it so relaxing?

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