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I like to write a lot about how to manage stress and anxiety, plus finding new ways to help busy moms like you cope. Today I’m going to talk about a way to relax the mind you may not have thought of before. Using coloring to de-stress. Yes, I am talking about crayons and colored pencils.
Believe it or not, there are a large number of adult coloring books on amazon right now that are best sellers. Who knew? A couple of examples are “Color Me Calm©” and “Color Me Happy©”. The theory behind them is: by coloring, you are activating the creative part of your brain and you are distracting yourself from worries of your environment. When you focus on the colors and the act of coloring, you are in the moment, focused on one thing and experiencing positive, neutral or non-judgmental thoughts.
This is very similar to mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation is more of a general term to describe being fully present in the moment in a non-judgmental way. The way you achieve mindfulness can vary from focusing on a body function, like breathing, or while you eat focusing on every sensation of your eating experience, which slows your eating down. Mindfulness meditation really works.
Coloring is another way you can achieve mindfulness meditation. It’s not for everyone, but does work temporarily as an escape from the real world. I wanted to tell you about this so you can have another tool in your arsenal of relaxation activities.
It’s important to know changes occur in the brain when we allow it to rest for periods of time through meditation. It can boost the area the brain uses for learning, memory, and emotion regulation. This basically means we have more control over how we feel than how we think. Meditation doesn’t have to be long and drawn out. Starting with 5 or10 minutes and maybe working your way up to 30 minutes (eventually) could be all it takes. Moreover, as a busy mom who can’t seem to grab “30 quiet minutes”, 10-15 minutes of meditation is better than none.
How can you start to make this part of your regular routine? Here are 5 tips for you:
- Set a time a daily schedule. You can make this during your lunch hour if you have a designated lunchtime. This could help recharge you for the afternoon. Another time is the 30 minutes before bed.
- Start small. Start with 5 minutes and work your way up in 5-minute increments
- Always meditate in a comfortable position. It’s distracting to be uncomfortable, so you want to eliminate that variable.
- Start with focusing on your breath. Some people say to empty your mind. I think if you’re not disciplined in meditation, it’s very hard to take a busy mind and empty it. Instead, focus on your breathing. Controlling your breaths triggers a relaxation response. We tend to huff and puff and breath shallowly when we are stressed. But start with taking long breaths in from your belly and counting to 5. Then hold the breath for just a second, then exhale, also counting to five.
- Use a timer. If you’re short on time, you can have a hard time letting go and relaxing if you are worried about going over time. Set a timer so that you can fully be in the moment and be assured that you will know when it’s time to stop.
Really try to work meditation into your daily routine. If you can’t seem to get into breathing or chanting mantras, try coloring. That may just be the thing for you. People tend to use crayons or color pencils. Don’t use markers, because they sometimes bleed through the paper and make a mess. Please let me know if you try it and if it works for you, I’d love to hear about your experience.