How I Used Zen-doodling To Deal With Anxiety In The Classroom


The good thing about coping skills, is that you can find ways that work for you.

What helps me may not be the one for you, and that’s okay. This is something that I know helps me, or makes a big difference when I am anxious or having an anxiety attack.

Have you ever struggled with anxiety while in a situation where you feel trapped, or unable to escape the situation?

It is an unpleasant feeling. You must keep yourself occupied, but instead you find yourself alone with your racing thoughts as your anxiety is only becoming worse.

Here is what have helped me in similar situations:

2 years ago, I missed a month of school because I could not sit through my classes without having an anxiety attack and needing to leave.

I found that doing active things in the classroom helped my anxiety, and when teachers would stand at the front of the room and lecture it was much harder for me to relax and just listen. I would have my notebook out, and as I was taking notes I would be doodling along the sides of the pages. It started with basic flowers, and then I added more and more detail to the point where they looked really artistic.

Someone pointed out to me that what I was doing was a “thing”; it was called zen-doodling. I discovered it on my own without realizing. Luckily my teachers knew of my situation and would allow me to doodle. It was the only way I could stay physically present in class.

Now this past year, the zentangle coloring books have become very popular. It is a fun hobby for some, but for me, I rely on it. My books are a part of my emergency care kit.

Just recently I was anxious about a long car ride with a friend and if I would need her to pull over. I didn’t care, I brought my coloring book and markers with me for the ride, and it took my mind to a different place.

In an education setting, it may appear unprofessional to have doodles along the pages of your notes. I remember worrying that my teachers would assume I was lazy, or didn’t care about the subject.

I made sure to complete all of my notes, even with the doodles. If I was having a difficult day and unable to focus on the smallest thing in class, I made sure to get notes from the teacher afterwards, or copy notes from a friend or other class member.

It was important for me to advocate for myself and explain my situation. By approaching my teachers with my current struggle, but also, how I knew I could succeed with the struggle, I found they were willing to support me.

Sometimes life can get us caught in a spiral and we may not be able to perform to our usual capabilities. When you are honest with yourself, and with others it becomes easier to find a safety route around/through the problem. Not only does this relieve stress, it gives you the courage and motivation to keep trying.

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About the Author
Haley is a social worker who uses writing as a positive outlet to work through her own struggles with mental health. She encourages everyone to share their stories. She believes if we all are more accepting and open about our past struggles, there will be less judgement, and more empathy in the world.
About (ReflectEvolve)
ReflectEvolve provides down to earth, thought provoking content to inspire higher thinking, infuse positive energy, expand consciousness and promote self awareness.
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