…how paint repeatedly saves me

As you know, I struggle with depression and anxiety and like the ocean some days it has a calm cadence and other days it roars with powerful waves. I have learned different techniques to deal with what comes up. Writing. Close friends. Cats. Kids. (sometimes in that order) Books. Nature. Tea. Paint.

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I love paint. I love the quiet. I love the change that happens right before my eyes. I love the brown just disappearing under a cool sheen of color. It is magical.

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Feeling depressed or stuck yourself? My answer to this: do something with your hands. It could be painting. It could be cooking. It could be gardening. It could be writing. But, doing something with your hands when in this state can be transformative. You are taking negative energy and applying it to something product. You may not understand consciously what you are doing, but before you mind catching up, your hands have already produced something beautiful. Something whole. It takes you from the place you were to a place of newness and hope just through the process. You can look at the result and say, “Wow. I just did that. Doesn’t it look beautiful?”

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When in an anxious state we are hyjacked mentally. Our brains are on fire automatically and in order to break free you need to try to get yourself out of that trance. Does that make sense? If you have these moments it should. Working with your hands will help you move from an over-active lymbic brain moment into a calmer state. You will then be able to think a little more clearly and know that it is going to be okay.

It is definitely a practice and one that I have been praciting since I was too little to understand what I was doing. When I felt anxious as a little girl I would sit down to the piano and just play and play. It took me away from letting the feelings take over. This works for me. If I am in a place where I feel disappointed by a friend or overwelmed, I go out into the cool belly of my garage, dip a brush into a pool of paint and keep my hands moving. By the time I come back into my warm kitchen I have settled down.

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Can you relate?

Love talking emotion? Visit and subscribe to The Safe Nest – my new blog that offers comfort, resources and help to us in our daily lives. We all get stuck sometimes. Let it out in a safe place. The Safe Nest.

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Comments

  1. I can relate! Love to paint doing it more and more, realizing that crafting is what makes me happy and I need it. Takes me away sometimes. And YES the wow, I created this is neat! Thank you for sharing, sometimes it feels like it’s just you (me)

  2. Dear Christen,
    Thank you so much for your honesty regarding anxiety and depression. You won’t know this but exactly two years ago I left my job due to years of stress that developed into anxiety and depression. Your blog and videos helped me. Your upbeat and welcoming persona helped me to understand Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and I fell in love with it too. It helped me to heal and I felt encouraged to set up my own little business Frenchhencountrymouse.com. I still have my good times and bad, and sometimes find the road a bit bumpy, but I appreciate my freedom, happiness and creative skills more than ever. Thank you for being there when I least expected it. Sending love,
    Helen xxx

  3. Painting relaxes me too and makes me feel good.

  4. Valarie Nickel says:

    just recently started chalk painting and fell in love with it. I have said several times “this is my therapy!” You truly get in the zone of your project that you forget about whatever was bothering you earlier. In the end, you get those happy feelings from the transformation and sense of accomplishment! Thank you for inspiring so many!

  5. Flavia Oliver says:

    I love to paint is my me time to relax
    Wen I am paint I forget very thing is just me my self and I
    Thanks for share love your work

  6. Oh my goodness, no one has ever put how I feel into words better than that post. Painting and decorating have always been an outlet for me, not only to express myself but to calm myself. I find that painting is the way for me to put the chaos in my brain into something beautiful and relevant. Simply put, I call it a life saver or at the very least a day saver and sometimes one day at a time is all we can ask for. Thank you!

  7. Wow talk about hitting the nail on the head ! You’ve gone and taken the words right out of my mouth !
    Thank you sweet woman for ” normalizing ” all the emotions we feel .
    Now I’m headed over to check in on that safe place . I can also share how paint has saved me more then once !
    Thank you x a million
    Donna

  8. thanks for having courage to be honest. My family also suffers from depression and bi-polar and we have also found being creative highly therapeutic. We r teaching the next generation not to hide it, to talk openly. Hiding causes shame and makes everything worse. If Robin Williams had known we loved him unconditionally and didn’t care if he was mentally ill maybe he would still be here today making us smile. Working on several pieces and wish I lived next door to your shop. Maybe a road trip from Chicago some day. 🙂

  9. Christen, thank you for posting. I can totally relate. It is always reassuring to know that others feel the same way, and that we can overcome these feelings.

  10. I can relate……… Working with your hands frees your mind

  11. I can’t believe how much we have in common! I too suffer from depression and you inspired me to take up painting! I now have my own business and painting is truly a form of therapy! Sometimes I will be scrolling through my fb and I will see one of your posts that will fit perfectly for how I am feeling! I often share your posts on my website. Thanks for being an inspiration!

  12. I can totally relate. My illness constantly throws my into a state of depression despite the antidepressants. My patina work has captured my heart and always makes me feel better. Love this post! The picture of your daughter painting is beautiful.

  13. Christen you say it beautifully. Your words are as artistic as your beautiful paint transformations. Thank you for sharing and for inviting us into your heart. I hope to have a neighbor friend like you one day, to sit in the same physical space with such a kind and honest friend.

  14. So well put! I just love the smell of my garage when it is full of old furniture waiting to be transformed. It puts me in a happy place (which is likely strange to many)!!

  15. Laura Blume says:

    Thank you for sharing something so personal, and something I can completely relate to. I’m in a period of transition right now, and painting, cleaning, anything with my hands definitely helps keep the monsters in the closet. Thank you for inspiring me and giving me peace and hope when I don’t even know you. Thank you for creating and sharing. Thank you for all you put out into the world in words and images. It helps more than you can imagine.

  16. Cindy @ Little Cherry Vintage says:

    Wow! I could have written this. I’ve often thought of writing a post called “How Annie Sloan and Miss Mustard Seed Saved My Life”. I picked up a paint brush and rented a space in a vintage shop and now I have something to focus on when my anxiety and depression get too much. It has really been a lifesaver and made me a better wife and mother and friend. I look forward to connecting with other creative ladies on your new blog space. Thank you!!

  17. Christen
    I been reading your posts and watching your youtube videos. I just want say what a lovely person you are. I don’t know your personally but I have connected with your loving and warm soul. Thank you for being you. Thank you for all you do. Thank you for your honesty and kindness.

    I suffer from anxiety and depression myself. I relate to what your are saying. I want you to know that you have inspired me and helped me out of a “stuck moment”.

    Today I am going to pick up some paint and play with a piece of furniture my parents handed down to me.

    Xoxox Have a blessed day

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