Self care pt3 – Paint you some rocks

If you spend a lot of time on the internet you may already know about a new fad popping up, painting rocks. I didn’t really know anything about it until a friend added me to a rock painting Facebook group, but once introduced to the idea, I was pretty intrigued.

Basically, rock painting is exactly what it sounds like. People are finding (or buying) rocks and painting them, and then many people, like the ones in my Facebook group, hide them in public places to be found, either by people who hunt for painted rocks, or as a nice surprise for an unsuspecting stranger. I like to think of it as a sort of year-round Easter egg hunt.

I lurked on the group for a month or two, admiring the intricate designs as they popped up on my feed and taking notes on how people went about making their creations. After talking about my interest with my husband for a while we picked up some supplies during a sale at our local Michael’s. All together we spent about $25 for 10 paints, a set of brushes, and the sealant we needed to keep them looking nice after being hidden outside. Since then I’ve been painting rocks for hours a day, at least a couple times a week. It is definitely my new favorite hobby.

Like most people who struggle with anxiety and depression, I’ve noticed a steep decline in the enjoyment of my favorite hobbies since my illnesses have worsened. Reading, which has been my refuge since grade school, is largely inaccessible when I’m dealing with racing thoughts from anxiety or fighting against fatigue from depression. Though I’m now doing much better with my reading goals, there were months where I didn’t pick up a book at all, and still times now where it’s hard to finish a page or two before I’m compelled to move on. Other favored activities, like watching a movie with my husband or playing cards with my family, end up being really touch-and-go, depending on my mood or inclination to socialize. Too often I find myself mindlessly scrolling through my phone, doing nothing and hardly enjoying anything, because finding something else to captivate my haphazard attention feels too difficult or pointless.

I’ve tried taking up other new hobbies on occasion, but nothing ever really stuck. I’m too impatient to learn to crochet. Adult coloring books overwhelm me (why are the designs so intricate? why does my indecisiveness extend to deciding which colored pencils to use?) And any activity that requires the outdoors is quickly conquered by my reluctance (and occasional inability) to leave my house.

So why has painting rocks worked for me? I think it’s because it solves a lot of the problems I’ve been butting up against. Designing and painting rocks gives me the creative outlet I’ve been itching for. I’m inclined to make lists of quotes and lyrics that I like, and now I have somewhere to use them. The act of painting has also been a wonder for my racing thoughts. The focus needed to paint a straight line isn’t the contemplative focus needed for reading, it’s a more straightforward focus for me, requiring nothing more than an ability to keep my hands steady and to see what I am doing. It has been incredibly calming to have my entire mind fixated on painting some lettering just right, rather than obsessing over mistakes long since made or the potentials of an uncertain future. Painting rocks has given me a relatively cheap and creative outlet for my anxiety.

And, so far, hiding them has become a nice shield against my depression too. The knowledge that something I create may bring joy to someone else is kind of my whole thing (hence my blog/interest in writing in general). It’s a little scary to drop a rock off somewhere (I don’t like to be noticed), but there’s definitely a bit of a rush too. I enjoy the community aspect of this hobby quite a lot, especially since I joined a few local groups. Sharing pictures of what I’ve made for the group and using the tag they’ve created to help track the rocks we hide has been a great source of motivation whenever I’m lacking a bit in the creativity department. I’ve even set up my own Instagram and hashtag to document this project as it expands. Even if it’s an internet fad that’s destined to be short-lived, it works so well for me that I expect I’ll be continuing for quite some time.

I hope if you’ve been looking for a new way to ease your mind and express yourself that this blog may give you some ideas. Below I’m going to post pictures of a few of the rocks I’ve painted so far. Several of these have already made their way out into the world, hopefully to someone who needed them.

Until next time,

Be well, friends.


Supplies: Acrylic paint, clear sealant, paint brushes, and clean rocks!
Our first batch! I did the pokeball and flower, my husband did the rest.
Two suicide prevention rocks I made for groups I’m part of on Facebook.
A Harry Potter themed rock.
A lyric rock I made using a line from Brand New’s “137”.
A line from a moving and lovely Instagram post. Inspiration comes from everywhere.


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