When it comes to attending the VA North Texas Stress and Anxiety Management class, coloring within the lines is optional.
U.S. Army Veteran William Alexander is the creator of a collection of unique art work he created with colored pencils to help him handle his stress. Alexander colored many of these pictures in the weekly Stress and Anxiety Management class he attends at the Dallas VA Medical Center. The objective of this class is to help Veterans handle their stress with techniques learned through adult coloring.
A Veteran of two decades in uniform, Alexander has taken to coloring over the last three years, spending countless hours on his art, with a growing collection of some 300 drawings created in class.
“This class has really helped me control my anger, anxiety and my emotions,” said Alexander. “Coloring takes time and concentration and I get so much enjoyment out of it.”
The anti-stress effects of coloring not only reduce anxiety, the act encourages focus and mindfulness.
“Adult coloring gives our patients an opportunity to focus and leave their stress at the door,” said Donna McCollum, VA North Texas social worker. “Veterans in the class can engage in conversation with other Veterans, or they can just color. We want every patient to feel comfortable.”
No skills or special art talent is needed to benefit from the class and nobody will hold you to the conventional standard of coloring within the lines of your project.
“Sometimes I get to coloring and I look up and it’s 2 o’clock in the morning and I tell myself I need to get to bed,” laughs Alexander. “Once I get into it, I’m just so focused on what I’m doing. I’ll show other Veterans what I drew, and I tell them how it has helped me.”
By Jennifer Roy is a public affairs specialist from VA North Texas Health Care System