Coloring Therapy for a Slower Summer
In the craziness of life, I often find myself not feeling like doing adult things. I have no choice when it comes to the really important things like work and paying my bills. But I occasionally put off things like dishes or vacuuming or balancing my budget in favor of doing something more childlike-- coloring, reading, or playing a game.
I love how much adult coloring books have been gaining popularity! I've seen them at a few different stores, and it makes me feel like I no longer have to hide the fact that I'm secretly a fan of coloring even though I'm no longer six years old.
catharsis OF COLORING
If you haven't personally tried coloring since you were a kid, you're missing out on its cathartic properties! I promise it's relaxing, unless you're super particular about having the end result be fridge-worthy. If you color with the intention of just having a good time, it will be!
Sitting down with a coloring sheet and some colored pencils gives me an escape from everyday stresses and messes. It forces me to step away from my computer, my to-do list, and the inner dialogue that's tripping me up with an unending litany of tasks, minor frustrations, and rushing to and fro.
Taking a coloring break forces me to slow down and focus on the task at hand instead of stewing over the past or worrying about the future. All I need in that moment is to look at what's right in front of me. It recharges me and reenergizes me!
I have a friend who doodles during lectures and sermons because it gives her hands something to do while she's listening. If she doesn't have a pen and paper, her mind wanders, but if she can distract herself with a beautiful mandala drawing in her notebook, she can pay attention better.
I've found the same to be true with my own wandering mind. If I have something for my hands or body to do, I can listen better and think more clearly. When I need to recharge my creative juices, I'll go for a walk. When I want to listen to some music or a podcast or just chat with a friend without having my eyes (and brain) wander all over the place, I'll go for a walk, or now pick up a coloring book!
Not only can coloring be a stress-relieving activity, but I've discovered how it can also be a social activity. I've gone to a few girls' get-togethers over the years to spend time both with people I know and other friends of theirs that I have never met.
Having coloring pages and colored pencils out gave us a place to start, something to do with our hands, and something to focus on besides the pressure to make small talk. Even around my good friends, it was nice to have something to do while enjoying comfortable silence when conversations trailed off.
Some people might be hesitant at first (maybe you are, too!), but as soon as one person picks up a sheet and the perfect shade of blue, everyone else feels like they've been given permission to start, too. And it's like a breath of fresh air because everyone already wanted to; they just needed someone else to go first. So let's be the ones who go first! And maybe also the ones who are okay with coloring outside the lines a little!
Coloring is a slow activity, unless you're a frantic three-year-old. It's meditative, contemplative, and relaxing.
Having a relatively mindless activity can be a welcome break in a world and life that moves along at warp-speed. I know that when I'm stressed and feeling overwhelmed, what I want most is to not have to do anything. I want to go for a walk, watch television, or color. I don't want to have to think. But I generally don't feel so great about how I've spent my time if I just binge-watch my latest obsession on Netflix, so coloring is a better choice!
I love the complex adult coloring pages that have detailed mandalas and patterns that take a while to complete. The kid inside of me gets restless with them, feeling rushed because I want to finish. But then I realize I don't have to finish it all in one sitting, and that's liberating. It's nice to have a little (very easy and comparatively tidy) project going in the background that I can return to whenever I have time or need to unwind.
As we slow down for summer to fully savor the best the season has to offer, may we choose to pull out a coloring sheet and some colored pencils instead of turning Netflix on out of habit. May we invite some friends over for a coloring and appetizer party, complete with some twinkly lights and a playlist of relaxing music. I think that sounds lovely, don't you?
Looking for a coloring book for yourself or a friend? Check these out!
A Giving Heart: A Coloring Book Celebrating Motherhood
Adult Coloring Book : Stress Relieving Designs Animals, Mandalas, Flowers, Paisley Patterns And So Much More
And if you're like me and don't know what you'd do with the finished sheets (which you could frame as art, give as gifts, or turn into cards, by the way), you can check out coloring apps! I have Colorfy on my Kindle, and I love it so much!
Health Benefits of Adult Coloring Books by Katie at Wellness Mama
Coloring your way to a healthy mind by Sara Dignan for USA Today College
Photo by Foto Garage AG on Unsplash
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