Try Meditative Coloring to Help Ease Stress and Anxiety

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Have you ever tried going to a yoga class? Well I have & I’ll be honest, I truly loved almost everything about it – except the meditating part. Now I know some of you are sitting there thinking: “She is crazy – that’s the best part!” & you would be right. I don’t have anything against meditation; in fact I would love nothing more than to sit in a room with calming music & just let my worries drift away. I am what one calls a “fidgeted” & an “over thinker” if you will, I find it impossible to sit still & relax. My hands are always looking for something to do & my brain continuously spits out the most ridiculous nonsense. I am forever worrying about what may or may not happen, determining every possible outcome – it is exhausting. Now you can imagine my inability to switch off & allow the calm to wrap itself around me can end up causing me a mountain load of anxiety & stress & you would be 100% accurate. I do suffer terribly & I know I am not the only one out there that does. I get angry or agitated for no apparent reason & just let someone suggest PMS to me & I hit the roof. I can categorically say that I, like many others suffer from my “stress metre” pegging too often (I feel like one of those carnival high strikers where someone keeps whacking the lever to see if they can get the puck to ring the bell).
I do not have an off switch & I don’t have a calming activity to take me away from all the thoughts that plague me throughout the day. We as adults have so many decisions to make on a regular basis & I long for the days where my biggest worry was whether or not my mother would be giving me dessert for being such a good little girl. We are adults – when & how did that happen? And how do we make it stop? The truth is we can’t but the good news is we can access our childlike ways by coloring complex & beautiful pictures. It helps to slow down our adult lives & it calms us enough to think clearly.
Most of us know coloring as a childhood activity involving colorful pencils or crayons and a strong desire to stay only within the lines. But coloring for adult actually has stress-relieving effects.
There are a couple of guesses as to why coloring can help someone relax and meditate: It is a repetitive movement that allows you access to the present moment – there is only you & the next color you pick. Coloring lets you do something relaxing in an almost trance-like state making it easy to shut out other distractions. When you color, you focus on it and this allows your worries float away, just as you do in meditation & more often than not I actually forget about the situations that have cause my heart rate to spike. So, coloring can be a good option for people who want to meditate but suck at it.
While there isn’t a huge collection of studies done on the effect of coloring, what we do know is that physicians have been recommending coloring activities for centuries. When monitoring the stress & anxiety levels of a group of people asked to color in various canvases the results were quite clear. The three types of canvases were a mandala pattern, a complex picture or a blank piece of paper. The results showed that people in the mandala and picture groups experienced a greater reduction in stress & anxiety than those in the blank paper group. The research suggests that coloring in pictures or patterns induces a meditative state that benefits individuals suffering from stress & anxiety.
So the next time you feel yourself reaching that boiling point or your nerves are just about shot just remember there is a way for you to get through it – all you need is colorful pencil crayons & an intricate picture & maybe even a glass of wine – we are adults after all.

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Carol Momberg

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