color club new pic

Color to De-stress and Express

Junior McKenzie Baker colors during a study break. Photo: Alyse Greenbaum

Junior McKenzie Baker colors during a study break. Photo: Alyse Greenbaum

As the amount of stress builds up to exams next week, many students feel they are juggling more than they can handle. Organizing and studying an entire semester’s worth of material can be overwhelming, as many do not know where to start. These nerves only amplify as frazzled students overwork themselves to prepare while maintaining a steady handle on their numerous other activities after school. In this hurricane of daunting tasks, how does one break free? The answer is simple: color!

Yes, this is high school and no longer kindergarten, but coloring is one of the best ways to relieve stress for any age, regardless of artistic talent. With the new addition of the Coloring Club this year, coloring has taken on a more exciting and present role at Pace. “I like coloring because it lets you do something with your hands that doesn’t require any mental effort,” said club co-founder Emma Downey. “It’s just relaxing and makes you feel like you’re doing something productive that is not hard to accomplish.”

Taking time to color provides many benefits for de-stressing. For one, it allows your brain to take a rest, giving it time to breathe and be creative instead of being exposed to constant absorption. When coloring, the brain enters into a stress-free zone that gives it a break to re-energize while also calming the amygdala, which is the part of the brain responsible for controlling fear and emotional behavior.

“I love to color,” said junior Keeley Harris. “It is really therapeutic because you don’t have to think about it too much. I would recommend getting the “Enchanted Forest” and “Secret Garden” coloring books for interesting and complex designs, but children’s coloring books are helpful, too, since they are simple and fun.”

Another benefit is the organizational aspect of coloring. By separating colors and staying between the lines, it allows your mind to settle easily into categories instead of struggling to unscramble multiple things at once. Spatial awareness calms the mind, so when one picks up a coloring utensil, there is no added worry but rather an opportunity to concentrate one’s thoughts and focus on a single task.

Everyone knows that taking little breaks between studying helps refresh and rejuvenate focus capacity, but what one chooses to do in those breaks is critical to future performance. For example, spending a 15 minute break on the phone is the go-to for the majority of high school students, but how helpful is this, really? Studies show that looking at a screen actually stimulates the brain instead of letting it rest, further speeding up brain exhaustion. Given the importance of giving your brain a break, why not try coloring?

Before taking the first step into exam week, just remember to keep an open mind. Once one becomes too consumed in a stressful bubble, it limits focus capacity. So, leave some room to try new de-stress techniques. In addition to coloring, options such as pleasure reading, knitting, walking the dog or meditating can be helpful in the long run.