Do more of what you love
“DO WHAT YOU LOVE EVERY DAY” is the motivational message on a drinks coaster I recently bought in a London market. I keep it on my bedside table, perhaps in the vague hope that I will spring out of bed every morning inspired to embrace the day.
In actual fact, I barely notice it, but there has been the odd occasion when I’ve glanced at it and, realising that I have nothing better to do, have followed its advice.
Creativity has always been important to me and my current vice is adult colouring books – a trend that is taking the world by storm. So on the days when my coaster catches my eye and tells me to take some time to myself, this is where I head.
There’s no denying that colouring is therapeutic, in fact it’s been likened to meditation (link: http://edition.cnn.com/2016/01/06/health/adult-coloring-books-popularity-mental-health/). For me, having to concentrate so hard on one thing helps to clear my mind of anything else that might be going on. It’s my chance to switch off from reality and immerse myself in something completely different, even if only for a few minutes.
Alternatively, it can provide the time you need to work through your problems while doing something you enjoy, rather than stressing over things in an environment that only serves to perpetuate your worries.
Others have found that they are better at listening and taking in information when they are colouring, to the point where some students take colouring books to lectures to help them focus on the lesson.
And there is a fantastic sense of achievement when you finally complete a page, having spent hours painstakingly keeping within the lines and carefully planning each colour you add. Well that’s my style, anyway. Perhaps I should go crazy with my next one, just picking up pens at random, and see how it turns out. My mother commented that it would be fun to do one with big, chunky pens that force you to go outside the lines. I don’t think I could bring myself to do it.
Whatever your approach, the results extend much further than what you see on the page. Studies have shown that (link: http://www.medicaldaily.com/therapeutic-science-adult-coloring-books-how-childhood-pastime-helps-adults-356280) art therapy (not exactly the same as colouring solo, as it involves a therapist) can comfort cancer patients and help people dealing with conditions such as PTSD and dementia.
It seems pretty clear that creativity can play a pretty important role in determining your state of mind.
It doesn’t have to be colouring, of course. If your ‘thing you love’ is going into the shed and knocking something together from a few pieces of wood, go for it! Or perhaps you like to lose yourself in song-writing or dancing.
The important thing, I believe, is to give yourself the time to focus on these things. If, like me, you need a little reminder to give you a nudge in the right direction, well you might get lucky and find your own coaster but a note on the fridge would be just as effective.
Next time you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, with too many thoughts running around in your mind, dedicate some time to that thing you love; the results might just surprise you.