Anxiety: A Tangible Reason to Paint Miniatures

Anxiety: A Tangible Reason to Paint Miniatures

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.

Fear touches everyone.


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: A Tangible Reason to Paint Miniatures

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.


Anxiety: A Tangible Reason to Paint Miniatures

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?

Billions of dollars are spent on self-help

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.

Anxiety: A Tangible Reason to Paint Miniatures
An empty seat on an airplane

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.

Anxiety: A Tangible Reason to Paint Miniatures
“I leave my past on one side, start my future on the other.”

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.

Anxiety: A Tangible Reason to Paint Miniatures

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.

Anxiety: A Tangible Reason to Paint Miniatures
Reach for the sky

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?)

Love conquers all.

“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.

Fear is the mind-killer.

Paul Muad’dib (Dune by Frank Herbert)
Anxiety: A Tangible Reason to Paint Miniatures
A storm is matter of perspective.

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!


Anxiety: A Tangible Reason to Paint Miniatures

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.

Anxiety: A Tangible Reason to Paint Miniatures

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.

Anxiety: A Tangible Reason to Paint Miniatures

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.

Anxiety: A Tangible Reason to Paint Miniatures

Final Word

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!

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4 thoughts on “Anxiety: A Tangible Reason to Paint Miniatures”

  1. Another great article. As a wargamer, modeler and painter I find every aspect of these activities very therapeutic and satisfying. Painting tiny miniatures is something I could see would help with a number of mental issues. Just like painting a picture or any other kind of creative outlet. I think to be a happy human you must spend some dedicated time to any kind of activity that has this effect. It focuses your mind and helps filter out any less useful emotions that you may be feeling. By definition a creative activity results in a creation, which in turn should be satisfying. I like being satisfied, its a good feeling to have!

  2. I have anxiety disorder too. It got better with the years, but at this point I am sure that I won’t completely get rid of it in this life, but it’s fine. It just sometimes comes back. I just learned to go through life with it. Back then I thought I was 100% disabled due to the anxiety disease, and the depression that was based on it. Nowadays I say I am 90% ok, and 10% ill (lol). But it’s really like that.

    What helped me a lot was to tell all my close friends, and my family. Now I don’t have to explain myself if I have an attack. Ironically that was a nuke on the disease, because since they know, I am not afraid to get an anxiety attack when I meet friends or family… it’s like I dropped a bomb on the disease (because it works like that, the fear of anxiety, the doom loop of thoughts).

    Still I can’t handle stress very well, and that just doesn’t mean negative stress. It also includes positive stress like happyness, excitement. It could be my birthday and I happy that I get visitors… before they arrive, it would feel like I am sitting in a rollercoaster approaching the loop. It starts in the stomach, I just got better to handle it. But it never completely went away, but now I can control it a bit.

    What helped a lot was, to stop fighting it. I don’t care anymore. I am who I am. And if I need a break, I take a break. I won’t fall into despair anymore if one day was bad (because it would introduce fear of anxiety again). This was groundbreaking, because anxiety is like a plant that needs soil and water. Removing it will make the plant decay. So, I’d call it acceptance like “Hey, now I have an attack, ok”. No more thoughts about that, it’s just “Hey, I have a panic attack again, ok noted” or “This time it’s a strong one, ok” or “I’m nervous, noted”. Knowing that brain messangers will be depleted after some time, which would result in the attack to stop, helps a lot. With that said…

    I read so much about it that I know that it’s super unlikely that it will kill me. Previously it felt like getting a heard attack, or choking… or like bladder cancer because it made me go to the toilet several times in a row, like kidney stones or whatever. But I checked everything and I am ok, except that my biochemistry is a bit jumbled. This is what I meant with water and soil… I can’t give it to the plant anymore, because now I know better. I basically studied my disease, and ironically that alone helped a lot.

    Exercise like jogging, hiking helped too. And of course sticking with hobbies because it redirects bad thoughts. But then again, acceptance and knowledge about the disease was the nuke… it was devastating for the disease. It got hit hard… I now just have it to do with the fallout, but this is acceptable now.

  3. Pingback: Wargaming: The Illusion of "Balance" (Editorial) - Tangible Day

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