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colorAs much as the world has come to depend on technology, I sometimes find myself wondering if it’s a blessing or a curse. The benefits gained as a result of computers, smartphones, and tablets are irrefutable; however, these things have also ushered in the era of being connected 24x7x365. Multitasking has practically become an Olympic sport, as it’s done to an increasingly absurd degree.

Looking For a Reprieve?

Whether you’re a full-time caregiver or someone who has a full-time career and oversees the care of a loved one, you know what it feels like to be overwhelmed and on the verge of burnout. You yearn for simpler times and wish you could just turn it all off (both figuratively and literally) for a few hours!

My caregiving days are over, but with a full-time-and-then-some career as well as writing, advocacy, and volunteer pursuits on the side, and the usual life/home maintenance activities, things can get dicey. Like most of the rest of the world, I struggle with priorities and balance some days more than others.

Stress has a significant bearing on our overall health and wellness, and caregivers know this better than anyone. So with life moving at such a fast pace, how do we find time for respite when a month in Hawaii or even just a quiet week at home isn’t in the cards?

When all else fails, grab a coloring book!

secretNext time you feel your priorities are askew, your perspective is out of whack, or your brain is just craving a time out, pick up a coloring book!

As unlikely as it sounds, Scottish artist Johanna Basford has sold over 1.4 million copies of her first adult coloring book, Secret Garden. The follow up, Enchanted Forest, appears to be following suit; both books are sold out on Amazon and BN.com!

In this article by Katelyn Murphy, Basford explains that she simply set out to create a coloring book she would enjoy. Noting the carefree nature of children, she wondered if an activity as simple as coloring might bring calm to an otherwise chaotic adult world. To her surprise, thousands of others desperate for a bit of relaxation sans smartphone or other electronic devices decided she was onto something.

Sound interesting? Just Google “Adult Coloring” or do a search on Pinterest and prepare to be amazed! This stress-busting diversion is a piece of cake to get into, requiring very little time and just a few inexpensive materials. Here is a great list of 16 Colouring Books Perfect for Grown-ups, courtesy of BuzzFeed.

My First Grown Up Coloring Experience

In the interest of, ahem, science, I decided I should check this out for myself so I stopped at Barnes & Noble over the weekend and picked up my first “grown up” coloring book. With a dozen or so options to choose from, I selected Peace & Love by Thaneeya McArdle and settled on a set of 12 Rikota Brush Markers (which, by the way, I love!).

IMG_1302The book begins with a few basics on coloring mediums, an explanation of the color wheel, and some beautiful examples of bright designs in rich, vivid, “feel good” tones. Just flipping through the pages had me eager to let my inner artist run wild and sure enough after about an hour I decided that perhaps I’ve been looking for Zen in all the wrong places.

I really enjoyed this time, and focusing on the detailed pattern cleared my mind of its usual pandemonium (no small feat). There’s something about the act of coloring that really is Zen-like, and I think that feeling, combined with the overall sense of joy found in creative pursuits, makes this a great temporary escape from reality.

So to all of my co-workers: should you come by my office tomorrow and find me coloring – worry not! It’s just a few minutes of calm in the midst of a typical frenetic workday, and if you’re extra nice, I might even let you use my markers!

I’d love to hear from others on this topic. What do you think? Have you or would you give coloring a try at this stage in your life? Why or why not? If you’ve already found it to be something you enjoy, tell us about your experience.