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Color Yourself Sane

stress management

When was the last time you colored? You know, markers and all?
I got the idea to bust out the coloring books when I found myself too stressed and tired to doodle. I kept trying to make myself draw as a way to do some self-care, but it just wasn't happening. Note to self: when you have to force yourself to do something fun, then, uh, it's not fun or self-care. So I did my favorite thing and I lowered the bar. I dropped from doodling down to coloring. And voila! I was enjoying myself. 

Now I find myself trolling Pinterest for free coloring sheets to print and saving adult coloring books to my Amazon wish list (and by "adult" I mean they're geared towards older people, not that they're coloring book full of nudie pics). Once or twice a week, when I want to do something that will relax me but not something that takes a lot of energy or brain power, I break out the markers for a bit.

Turns out lots of people know about the power of the coloring book. In fact, some therapists recommend coloring as a relaxation technique. That's because when you're coloring you place your focus on the page in front of you and let your thoughts fall away. It can be meditative - instead of focusing on your breath, you're placing your attention on the calming and repetitive action of filling in the shapes. Coloring as mindfulness practice? I'm in.

It's also fun and creative, but unlike drawing, you don't have to work so hard at it. You can just let go of your thoughts and get into your coloring flow. Mandalas, circular designs with concentric shapes, are particularly relaxing to color. If you'd like to learn more about coloring as a relaxation technique, take a look at this post from Jan Spilman, the founder of Caregiver Wellness Workshops.

Want to give it a try? Here are two of my favorite coloring sheets:
Today is Going to be Awesome!
Simple Mandala

Tomorrow I'm headed to Kingston, ON for the Care4You conference and I'll be immersed in all things compassion fatigue for a few days. One of the workshops that's offered is on the healing power of mandalas. You bet I'm packing my markers!


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