As the coronavirus stay-at-home and social-distancing orders continue to be in effect, medical experts have suggested increases in anxiety, depression and stress are to be expected. In turn, many brands and influencers across all industries have been offering solutions to help people cope with the current situation — whether it be through group fitness activities, meditation or cooking tutorials.
The shoe business is also lending a hand by launching creative initiatives to combat the mental health component of the crisis.
For instance, Manolo Blahnik has released a downloadable coloring book featuring templates of the designer’s most memorable and detail-rich designs. And for those who associate coloring with child’s play — that’s precisely the point.
“Coloring and sketching is associated emotionally to positive childhood experiences,” said Brooklyn psychologist Dr. Tony Ortega. “The first thing these activities do is bring you back to time when things weren’t so bad.” He added, “These activities serve as a way of deflecting those worrisome thoughts and redirecting our energies into something that is very playful.”
Jimmy Choo also joined the popular movement of designers encouraging consumers to color. Earlier this month, the label announced Choo Sketch, a new design contest where individuals can create and submit their own shoe designs. Participants can enter by creating their own sketch at home, taking a photo of it and emailing the submission to ChooSketch@JimmyChoo.com by May 15. Jimmy Choo creative director Sandra Choi will then choose her top 10 designs, which will be posted to the brand’s Instagram account for followers to vote on the top five designs.
According to neuropsychologist Dr. Sanam Hafeez, in addition to promoting a sense of escapism, when a subject is asked to sketch or color, it has been shown to improve reported stress levels.
“This is because our brain has an enjoyable and repetitive activity to follow, which helps us zone out of our stress or the anxiety that stressful situations can cause,” she explained. “Coloring books activate our logic center as we concentrate on practical functions like coloring inside the lines, or creating a sketch.”
What’s more, creating allows the brain time to rest and disengage from stress-inducing thoughts, providing much-needed calm during these unprecedented times.
It’s no surprise, then, that the trend is catching on and other designers are following suit.
By Far has created an adult coloring book, while Arianna Casadei encouraged fans to re-interpret the signature Casadei Blade pump, for example. Plus, emerging designer Andrea Wazen issued a series of challenges on her Instagram Stories, asking followers to fill in a template of a shoe using only emoticons and Instagram’s pencil tool.
Responses have been overwhelming for designers who launched these initiatives, with hundreds taking part. Zyne announced that it received 800 entries for The Charity Shoe Project, which asked followers to create their dream Zyne shoe, and in turn, the brand said it would donate $1 for each entry and the winning designs would be made by the label’s artisans.
“The health benefits of coloring is tied to the amygdala. The amygdala is the brain’s region or part that controls emotions,” explained licensed therapist Jennie Marie Battistin. “[Activating] the creative areas of our brain can soothe the amygdala, which can help us let go of the negative thoughts and experiences of the day or have a less reactive response to negative thoughts.”
Other beneficial activities to help reduce anxiety, suggested by psychologists, include listening to music, painting, sewing or knitting. Creating social experiences together with one’s family or virtually with friends is also recommended.