Monday, May 4, 2020

My Meditation for Stress Relief: Coloring Pages

Art is something that has been a part of my life since I was a young girl. My father had an appreciation for it so drawing, coloring, and painting is something that I have been exposed to at a young age. While I cannot say that I have a talent in the arts, I enjoy the practice of making it and love seeing works of art that catch my attention. It has been a hobby for me to sketch from time to time. It gives me a sense of calm that is hard to find when I have a lot on my mind.

I think it is my appreciation of art that pushed me into the habit of coloring when I am feeling too much stress. There is something about the whole process that soothes me whenever I do it. During my early days of working, I used to buy coloring books (that were meant for children) or download coloring pages that I could work on. I remember my father shaking his head when he found out that I do this, but hey, whatever works right?

While there were several adult coloring pages that I found online that had cool drawings and all, I was happier when I discovered that there are actually coloring books for adults that I could buy. I had bought one by Johanna Basford called Secret Garden which, because of the intricate details of each illustration and my obsessive compulsiveness, I have not yet finished after all these years. I have another one that is Korean and features food, mostly sweets. I will start that one when I am finished with Secret Garden, whenever that is. 

adult coloring pages
Work in Progress

With the whole COVID 19 quarantine situation, I have had the chance to make the coloring thing an activity that I can do with the kids, particularly with my young nephew. Initially, I started off with him being my “color picker:” he would tell me which colors to put where and that would result in a page that turned out quite different from what I expected it to be. I guess his interpretation of things at a young age is still different (and dare I say, more adventurous) so his work with me has a totally different perspective. We have progressed to him coloring a page on his own. He has not finished it yet, since it is a lot of work even for an adult like me. I like that it is teaching him patience (if not a tendency to grind my colored pencils to stubs as he colors more intensely compared to me).

adult coloring pages
My nephew's WIP

There has been an argument online about the therapeutic effects of coloring on people. Some say that it is a good alternative to therapy, while some argue that it does not help those with mental health issues completely. In my opinion, the process of coloring helps me to relieve my stress, but I cannot say for certain that it can help in other ways. For me, it is a form of meditation to calm my nerves after a long day, like a little yoga for my brain. I would not go too far as to say that medically speaking it is something that works. I have never been in therapy, so I have no idea which is better or not. It helps, but it is not a cure for anything. 

adult coloring pages
Finished work

I find that the way I color at any given time shows the emotions that I have when I am coloring. I remember a time when I was heartbroken about something and the colors on the page ended up all dark and depressing without me even noticing that I did it. When I am not that stressed, the colors end up light and bright. Most of the time the colors I pick are not intentional. I tend to go with what I feel and not think too much about it until I see the result.

If you enjoy art like me, you may appreciate and enjoy the idea of having a coloring book (or two) at home. It is a good way to decompress after a whole day at work or to pass the time in a non-gadget/digital way. One book, a set of pencils (or crayons, or markers, whatever you prefer) and you are all set! 

Share some of your work with me if/when you give it a try?


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