Did you know that 1 out of 4 people in the United States suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder (source)?
1 out of 5 adults have an anxiety disorder in any given year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, NIMH).
Chances are you or someone you know has an anxiety disorder.
I’ve thought about this mental health topic for a while now.
It’s an interesting and important issue. Specifically, I’ve wondered how anxiety relates to the hobby of miniatures. I’m sure it does, as the statistics show how common anxiety is in our society.
This article is an overview of what I’ve learned and a few of my thoughts.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is normal for many people.
Anxiety is an experience related to fear (i.e., an emotional response to an external stimulus). For example, an angry bear is chasing me. “Run! Hide!”
Anxiety is a problem when it becomes a general and excessive response to a real or perceived threat (source). The feeling of anxiety happens “out of the blue”.
Anxiety disorders lead to behavioral and functional disturbances. You may experience issues with relationships, academics, occupation, and other daily activities. Abnormal anxiety is unrelenting, persistent, and based on intangibles.
How does anxiety affect you?
It sucks. Really. I’m not even sure I like writing about it.
But, here it goes.
We’ve all experienced anxiety in some form or another. Fear and worry are a part of being alive. The sense that something might go wrong.
I’ve read a lot about anxiety, and learned quite a bit from knowing people who struggle with constant worry. Doing a bit of research helps, too.
Here’s what I got in a nutshell of why anxiety sucks:
- Doom – a sense of “The End” that never lets go. You can’t even focus on anything because the presence of doom is always with you.
- Panic attacks – this is usually the physical stuff you feel along with anxiety; the shortened breath, the heart that wants to bust out of your chest, the pain that isn’t even real pain.
- Depression – I’m not an expert, but this seems to go hand-in-hand with anxiety. Anxiety makes normal things feel off, just a tad-twisted, and meaningless. I suppose that’s the feeling of depression. I lack of joy.
- Fatigue – Are you always tired? Complaining of tiredness all the time could be from anxiety. Fighting anxiety is a war of attrition. Mental, emotional warfare with no surrender.
- Aches and Pains – Headaches, muscle and joint pain, seem to be common symptoms of anxiety. You’re always tense in body and mind.
Why is anxiety so prevalent?
Anxiety is commonplace. It seems to be the norm.
Have you walked into a bookstore and noticed the size of the self-help section?
More cash is spent in the self-help market than in the nutrition-fitness industry. That’s, crazy.
This should tell you something about our civilized society. We’re generally sad and worried.
To understand anxiety, I’ve also picked up a lot about why anxiety creeps into our daily lives. I won’t bore you with the minute details (at least not in this article), but it comes down to this:
Anxiety for most people is fear of the unknown.
The scariest unknown thing you can experience is the future.
Your past is gone and done. Although it might have been dark, you can face it with your present moment. Make new choices. Have new opportunities. See hope.
But, the future… that is where we are blind and deaf. Everyone alive must face the unknown future.
Sit for a moment, and think about who you are, and what will happen tomorrow.
Boom! Nothing. Something?
There is no certainty in the future.
Life may throw you a curve ball.
And, hit you in the heart.
There’s nothing you can do about it.
Okay, what can you do to combat anxiety?
If anxiety is based on fear and worry, then all you need to do is cling to the opposite.
I would argue that the opposite of fear is love.
“What is love? Baby, don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me… no more.”Haddaway (Song 1993: What is love?)
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only LOVE can do that.”Dr. Martin Luther King
I would make the point that love is both a noun and verb. In other words, love is a “thing” you “act” with.
You need to put love into action to experience it. If you act with love, then anxiety and fear diminish.
Absurd, but true.
I’m not even sure I can explain it.
Whom and what do you love? If you know, then act on it and see your anxiety float away.
(Caveat: if you love hurting people, then you’ve got it all twisted)
A Scientific Link Between Anxiety and Creativity
There’s some strong scientific evidence supporting a powerful link between creativity and anxiety. It makes sense though, doesn’t it?
Many singers, actors, artists, and writers struggle with anxiety.
Creative people need to be different. We are different.
The article I read here states that the “main connection between creativity and anxiety is imagination”.
The article does not go into detail about how the imagination may drive anxiety, but it makes sense.
It is within our mind that many of our fears arise.
An imagination driven to the dark-side is the most powerful driver of anxiety. The imagined fear of the unknown.
The authors suggested several ways to reduce anxiety. But, only one stood out to me as tangible:
Channel the powerful imagination of the anxiety-prone person into a creative activity.
Another way to describe “focused-imagination” is also known as “mindfulness“.
Being mindful is a focused mental state.
Okay, you’re probably thinking I might be heading into new-age territory.
Not at all. I’m not advocating meditation or anything like that.
Here’s what I’m saying: find something you love to do, and do it.
Can miniature painting reduce anxiety?
I’ve dedicated this entire site to the creative hobby of miniatures, art, and anything else I find remotely related and interesting.
Can miniature painting stop anxiety?
Maybe. It does for this guy.
And, this dude.
I love painting miniatures. It chills me out. I don’t even mind watching paint dry on a model. I’ll get in close and watch for a few seconds as the pigments bind to the surface.
I find the whole process fascinating. I’m focused.
Yeah, I would totally advocate painting miniatures to someone who is looking for creative ways to express themselves, and at the same time cope with anxiety.
Painting miniatures has a chill-axing effect.
I can’t explain it!
Maybe, coloring books are similar.
Coloring books are therapeutic (source). Drawing and coloring can allow people to switch off their brains from distracting, fearful thoughts and worries.
Coloring books are also approachable. See an educational adult coloring book here. They are things we’ve played with since we were small children. You don’t need much money to start a coloring book hobby. A few coloring pencils or markers.
Switching gears now.
I would say that for similar reasons, painting minis is a great way to take the world away for a while, and let your mind rest.
Miniatures are everywhere nowadays. Although less mainstream than coloring books, many board games use miniatures. Almost none of these games come with pre-painted miniatures.
Like coloring books, miniatures are essentially pre-drawn objects that you fill-in with color. They do take a bit more skill and workspace, but the concept is the same.
Add color, stay within the lines (as it were), and you’re done.
To sum it up, painting miniatures leads to the same restful mind-state as coloring or drawing.
Miniature painting is empowering.
But, I hate painting miniatures.
I have an article about why you might not like painting miniatures (read about it here).
I know I’m not going to convince you why you should paint miniatures beyond the idea that it can help you rest your mind.
But, I can leave you with advice again: find something you love and do it.
It can be simple. It should be simple. Maybe, keep off social media where all the distractions of an anxious world seem to come from nowadays.
Tips: Treat a friend to dinner. Cook a meal. Breath.
Thank you for reading my thoughts on the topic. I’m sure I’ll have more to say as I explore the rich universe of miniature hobbies, games, and other related things.
- Do your hobbies calm you down?
- How often do you act upon your creative tendencies?
- Does it help?
Let me know in the comments below!