Want to relax? Forget meditation. Try coloring.
I'm going to tell you the truth.
Your kid is so much better than you at finding happiness.
You, the adult, need to google how to relax and find peace. You download books on your kindle about calming down. Your kids just know. They instinctively do the things that feel good to them. If they feel wound up, they run around outside, yelling and sweating until their body is empty of tension. If their feelings are hurt, they cry. If they need to chill out for a while, they color. No skimming how-to articles or researching top 10 review sites needed.
But you are a grown up. And unlike a child, you like to make everything complicated.
You look outside yourself for help. You want the experts to tell you how to fix your messed up, stressed out brain.
The relaxation method that has dominated self-help in the last several years has been meditation. It seems that meditation has been sold as the cure to all mental and emotional issues. Everyone gushes about the benefits of meditation. But, you can only reap those benefits if you can get through the stage of immense frustration that beginners to the practice face. It’s been glamorized to the point that you spend half the time wondering if your technique is right and the other half feeling guilty that you actually hate doing it.
I don’t want another thing I have to learn how to do, especially if it involves more willpower and discomfort. I have enough of those character-building opportunities in my daily life.I could search out different types of meditation and see if there is one that is a better fit, but I just don't want to meditate. I want an alternative to meditation.
I need quietly focused and creatively calm moments where I can let a thought dance around my head, all the way to the finish line . We all crave that feeling of mental flow. Who doesn’t like getting in the zone and letting your mind wander wherever your thoughts take you? It’s a state that humans are naturally drawn to. It’s where ideas are born and creativity grows.
So instead of starting a meditation practice, I am stealing a technique for getting myself in a state of mental flow. It's been used with great success by happiness experts (kids) for decades. It's called coloring.
Before you roll your eyes and click off the page, let me explain. I am not talking about coloring books full of puppies and princesses. Obviously, there are differences in what appeals to a 7 year old and a 30 year old.
The best thing for an adult to color is patterns. Coloring a pattern takes away the dilemma of what color the dog should be. A 6 yr old doesn’t care if the cat is purple and the sun is green, but adults have expectations and they feel a strong pull to meet them. And that pressure stifles personal expression and causes stress.
By coloring patterns instead of images, we win in two major ways.
First, we take away that pressure to conform and can be free to mix and match color combinations in ways that make us feel good. If you have never experienced the satisfaction of filling an empty pattern with a thick layer of colors that beautifully interact with each other, you are missing out. Get over yourself and try it.
Second, we get some repetition. People love repetition and our brains are primed for pattern-matching. It creates feelings of comfort, security and familiarity. It makes coloring even better at upping those "I-feel-good" chemicals.
Take note of the genius of a child and see if you can do the same. Technology allows you to color without the danger of your favorite color pen running out of ink. There are apps that have an endless supply of patterns, pen tips, and color shades.
You have my permission to skip the meditation and get coloring. See my recommendations below for finding the best adult coloring app.
How to choose an adult coloring app:
1. Patterns: is there equal repetition of shapes and movement? Are the spaces closed or will you find yourself frustrated with a pattern that connects where it shouldn’t? Are the shapes too big or the spaces too detailed?
2. Pen tip sizes: can you adjust the pen tip?
3. Does it allow for strokes or is it just touch and fill? Touch and fill does not have the feel of coloring in a book. You need something that allows you to fill in a part of the pattern, stroke by stroke. That is the key to the soothing feelings that coloring brings about.
4. Can you try it for free and then go premium if you like it?
The long-time favorite choice of adult coloring apps is Coloring Advanced. This developer has several coloring apps that closely mimick the feel of coloring with pen and paper. The Coloring Advanced apps were popular before the adult coloring book craze took off. No other coloring app captures the true coloring experience like Coloring Advanced.