THIS IS A GUEST POST by Kirsty Russell of My Home Truths
More information on Kirsty and how you can connect with her is available at the end of this post.
You’ve probably all noticed the hype around colouring for adults.
During the last year the idea of adults colouring in for stress relief has transitioned from a novel idea to a mainstream one. A check of the shelves at any newsagent, post office or craft store will reveal an ever expanding range of illustrated books all created for one purpose.
To help adults de-stress through the rhythmical act of colouring in.
In theory, this makes perfect sense. Concentrating solely on a single task lies at the heart of mindfulness, where you train your mind to be solely focused on what you are doing, feeling and thinking at a single point in time.
It’s a way to find focus, calm down and be “in the moment.”
It’s the perfect anecdote to our normal, busy, multi-tasking lives, where we end up moving through the moment and enduring it, because it’s in the way of all those other moments we need to get through and endure.
The act of colouring in – concentrating on filling in the gaps, the movement of pencil on the page, the feeling of calm and the simple achievement of completion – is an ideal activity, geared towards promoting this kind of conscious mindfulness.
However, what happens when you are too busy trying to make your colouring in perfect and blemish free to actually be mindful? What happens if you are a perfectionist like me?
I was first made aware of my perfectionist tendencies many years ago in my first stint of therapy. After recounting my story and my daily challenges, the psychologist asked me whether I’d considered my perfectionism before.
Well, funnily enough, no I hadn’t.
Even though perfectionism isn’t ideal, I didn’t really see the big problem. Sure I can become a little obsessive over the details of a task and spend more time than strictly necessary on completing things. Plus I have LOTS of trouble delegating any small task to others.
But wanting to get things perfect is not all that bad, surely?
So for years I continued in my perfectionist ways, slowly becoming more and more stressed and less able to delegate anything. Until I got so stressed that I suffered a suspected mild stroke.
Understandably, after such an event, I finally sat up and took notice of my perfectionist tendencies. And for the first time truly realised how very damaging they were to my mental and physical health.
In a bid to find some calm I again recommenced therapy and again embraced mindfulness techniques. Apart from daily meditation and regular walking to find pockets of mindfulness in my day, I also decided to try colouring in.
Now, I’ve always loved colouring in. It’s the one activity I can happily do with my kids for hours at a time. I do find it soothing and satisfying to slowly bring a picture to life.
As long as I can finish it to my satisfaction.
And therein lies the rub.
When colouring in with the kids, the perfectionist in me always dies a little inside when they insist on turning the page before I’m done, or when they “help” me finish the picture off. I know it’s irrational but that’s how I feel.
So you’d think having my own collection of books, pencils, textas, crayons and pens would ensure my happiness and the full satisfaction of my inner perfectionist?
The answer, surprisingly, is NO.
While I’m enjoying the process (when I get the time) I’m now holding myself up to a level of expectation that I will never be able to reach. Because it’s adult colouring in, there is no room for errors or mistakes. My inner perfectionist demands that after 40 years of practice, I get it right, every time.
Then there’s the trouble with the materials. I love The Mindfulness Colouring Book for Adults but the pages come out fairly easily which is something my inner perfectionist has trouble dealing with, especially if it leads to a smudge or an issue with my marker.
Which brings me to the many issues with my markers. What’s with waxy pencils? Streaky textas? And bumpy, inconsistent crayons? How on earth are you supposed to make a masterpiece when the materials won’t even play fair?
So much for mindfulness. Instead of enjoying the act of quiet colouring, I find myself spending most of my time counting under my breath, trying not to swear, or nursing my sore hand which is not used to holding and using pencils any more.
But I’m persisting and have found a middle ground of sorts where I’ve learned to put the effort in for some pictures and accept that there is a place for more quick, rough & ready attempts.
My more recent pictures, completed quickly in texta while in hospital & convalescing at home:
AND I’ve even allowed my girls to have a page each of their own to colour – in my own book.
That, my friends, is progress!
What do you think of mindful colouring? Do you enjoy it, hate it or can’t understand the fuss?
And most importantly, does it actually make you feel calm and “in the moment”?
Guest posting for the wonderful Min while she takes a break to look after herself.
Bio: Hi I’m Kirsty Russell, a mother of 3, wife of a big kid, freelance copywriter, carer and blogger from Newcastle NSW. I always have way too much on my plate but I am learning to juggle with the best of them. I use my blog to vent, laugh at myself, raise awareness of special needs parenting, autism and albinism and to pretty much just crap on. Because in the end it’s all about me – my life, my stories, my home truths. Find me over at My Home Truths, Smarter Happier and at my new site, Double Scoop Consulting. Yes, I am busy! 🙂
Thank you for your fabulous post Kirsty! Not only is Kirsty one busy lady but would you believe she prepared this post for me having just had surgery on her knee! She wrote this whilst convalescing! She is incredible!
In addition to the three links above, here’s where you can also CONNECT with Kirsty via ‘My Home Truths’:
Ciao for now,
Linking up with With Some Grace for #FYBF