Schmitz’ work in non-invasive stress-relief activities show how veterans are turning to coloring books to relieve PTSD, relax and regain a sense of control over pressing issues in everyday life.
“It’s alarming, really. Our veterans are dumped into daily life after active duty and society really isn’t equipped to help them re-integrate into the daily grind. After mastering life on duty under strenuous circumstances – they are more stable and capable than most of us. And yet, they are left alone to pick up the pieces in making sense of various challenges experienced while serving the country. All the workforce cares about is “functioning” employees,” says Schmitz. “Coupled with the normal stresses of family, career and financial concerns, veterans today are facing major stress factors coming at them 24/7. That requires a cool head and the ability to discern between important and urgent. With the military infrastructure and support systems gone, this can turn into a silent struggle and make PTSD even worse. That’s why the average veteran must think differently when it comes to developing coping strategies to relieve the burden of PTSD.”
“Although there’s a difference between coloring and being guided by a therapist,” Erin Maynard, media liaison of PTSD Survivors of America said, “the activity helps regulate stress.”
Coloring is especially useful to those who have PTSD, Maynard notes, since their amygdala — the brain’s integrated center of emotions, emotional behavior, and motivation — is hyperactive.
“The problem with that is that it’s the part of the brain that controls the fear response. PTSD is a disorder of memory storage and recall, and you fixate on these terrifying memories and they become ever present for you,” according to Maynard.
The Malagasy proverb “Idleness moves so slowly that it will be overtaken by misery” paints a strong picture especially when dealing with PTSD. But over-stimulation is not the answer. The relief found by shifting your focus to coloring brings the perfect balance, explains Schmitz. She agrees with Maynard, “Coloring actually reduces the activity of the amygdala, so that’s part of the reason that it helps calm you down.”
An event Schmitz created on Facebook, the Grown Up Coloring Book D-Day Bonanza, is designed to aid PTSD sufferers in navigating alternative, safe and proven ways to reduce stress and avoid aggressive behavior in times of anxiety and insecurity.
Schmitz will be joined by 13 top selling artists who have donated prizes, organized giveaways and offered special, event-only, deals to all who join:
- Sue Chastain of SuziQ Creations
- Julia Stueber of Colors of Abundance
- Alice Best Jackson of Messages From Beyond and Imagery From Beyond Art
- Katie Darden of Magical Design Coloring Books
- Sarah Renae Clark of Sarah Renae Clark
- Daniel Howard of DanCin Art Studio
- Marjorie J McDonald of Book Graphics Girls
- K. Phipps of The Koloring Korner
- Bill Clanton of Bill Clanton Books
- Maria Castro of Scribo Creative
- Jenny Luan of InkTangle Gift shop
- Jason Hamilton of Adult Coloring Books by Jason Hamilton
Judging by the sentiments of past participants, Inkovator is poised to help many who are suffering from PTSD, veterans and beyond.
“I loved meeting artists I hadn’t known about and seeing some awesome new books. The contests were fun!,” said Raquel, a participant of Inkovator’s spring Grown-Up Coloring Book Bonanza held in February, 2016.
Another participant commented, “This event was amazing! I got nothing done today but was nice to sit and meet all of you artists and see your beautiful work!! I think there should be more meets like this, not to win anything but to meet the talented artists!! Thank you all for taking time out of your day for us and Andrea thank you for this event today!!! You all rock!!”
“Loved everyone the generosity the excitement xoxoxo thanks for an uplifting day while I’ve been home sick!!!” Cee described her experience of the spring event.
“You would never imagine that something as simple as a crayon could have such a big impact, but when you’re talking about people who are feeling stressed and isolated and scared — it’s just a crayon but it’s kind of like a magic crayon,” admits Maynard after the first nation-wide coloring event hosted by the PTSD Survivors of America.
Schmitz feels she is helping PTSD sufferers find non-destructive ways to deal with aggression, depression and frustration while extending an offer to the broader community and bringing them all together in one fun and free event on Facebook.
The Grown Up Coloring Book D-Day Bonanza event will be held Monday, June 6th from 10 am – 11 pm EDT. To learn more, meet new artists, enter giveaways and have a chance to win prizes dedicated to making adult coloring the stress-reducer of choice, visit http://inkov.at/d-day-bonanza.