Welcome my dear friend, Samantha. She’s wise. She’s inspiring.
She’s offering a freebie. She’s someone to whom *I* turn when I need advice or a boost.
Please to enjoy…
When I was twenty-one I lived in an ashram in the Catskills for about nine months.
I’d spent a few months at a time there before, and six weeks at an ashram in India a few years before that.
We would wake up every morning at about 4:30 am, have chai, then sit for an hour and a half long morning chant. I would then most often go to the “cave,” a meditation space tucked away in a corner, no windows, no light except for one single candle in a blue glass holder in the front of the room.
Perfectly still, perfectly quiet. I loved meditating there. Sitting after having chanted for an hour and a half, it was pretty easy to be still and quiet.
Oh, the days of youth…
Fast forward to 2016. I’ve had a difficult last nine months.
I have a nine year old. I’m running two businesses. My parents had a very difficult and stressful move to a retirement community. Two friendships that were very important to me pretty much imploded. And that’s honestly the tip of the iceberg.
Problems of privilege, I know, but nonetheless I’ve ended up with sleep that is a bit of a shit show challenge, and some chronic anxiety that is constantly hovering around the edges of my mind and body.
I’m not surprised that it’s come to this. I’ve been here before. I come from a long line of anxious people. It’s genetic. It’s learned. It just is. And I’ve worked very hard not to live in that place but sometimes things line up and I find myself face to face with it. That’s life.
I get that sitting meditation is good. But the feelings in my body make it hard to do. Can I? Sure. Would it be good for me? Sure. But do I need to do it even though I hate it? No. Absolutely not. Self-help and self-care shouldn’t suck.
So what to do? Look outside the box.
I have several friends who were raving about it, but I hate a bandwagon. So I ignored them. But after some wearing down I gave it some thought, and really, it made sense. Here’s why:
1. Coloring takes your focus away from your worries and directs it towards the page. We’re so often stuck in the past or worried about the future. Coloring can help you be in the moment.
2. Coloring is a conscious decision to step away from whatever other non-relaxing other thing you might be doing. I set a timer at the end of the night to shut down my computer. Anything I can do to stop the itch to rabbit hole on my computer is a good thing.
3. There are often repeating patterns you can focus on. This approach is part of many different kind of meditation techniques across cultures. Mandalas, labyrinth walks, japa (mantra meditation,) focusing on the breath, to name a few.
4. It’s art. Art has been shown in many studies to help people. Our minds can be calmed by beautiful things. Colors can elicit emotions as well as help us express them. Just look at kids doing art and see the focus and joy. We can get that back too…grownup style.
5. It’s fun. It’s playful. It’s easy. It’s creative. Being a grown-up has its advantages. It can also suck. I’m very lucky that I have a job (two, actually) that I love, a doting husband, an easy kid. I have privilege in my life and good health. And yet I’m often overwhelmed. I can get anxious, and sad, and sleepless, despite my wonderful life and my expertise on the topic of stress. We can all, after all, use a bit of fun to remind us that it’s ok to relax and take a break from all of the adulting.
So I tried it.
Does coloring take the place of systematically figuring out what things are impacting my overall stress load? Certainly not. Is coloring a fun way to decrease my stress? Absolutely.
Once I was in, I went in search of some free coloring pages to download. There were a few I liked but not many. The ones I did like were often not full sized, or not actually free in the end. So I imagined exactly what I would want to download:
Free pages that are original, beautiful, and have thoughtful ideas that support me to decrease my stress without making me feel like I’m reading some cheesy FB meme or missing the boat by not doing more to take care of myself.
I searched. And I searched. They didn’t exist, so I commissioned a friend to do the art and I put words to them that I use with my patients all the time. Here’s one of them:
If you want a full set, I’d love to share them with you. Just CLICK HERE enter your email, and download all eight!
Dr. Samantha Brody is a licensed naturopathic physician in private practice in Portland, OR. When she is not in the office you can find her meeting with clients virtually across the globe, speaking at gluten-free events, and writing her forthcoming book The Stress-Less Strategy. She has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The LA Times, Livestrong, Shape, First for Women, and Huffington Post. Click here to download a FREE copy of Dr. Samantha’s Stress-Less coloring pages.