I’ve often used crayons… myself, with adults, and as a way to occupy children who are visiting. So I wasn’t surprised when I learned recently that the New Canaan, CT Library has colored pencils and coloring sheets for adults to “check out” and use to relieve stress and even help with writer’s block. What a great idea!
Of course it’s not just crayons and coloring. Art therapy is accepted method of reducing stress and increasing creativity. The experts tell us that activities like coloring help us by serving as a distraction–even if only for a few minutes. Even coloring a picture means thinking about color choice and concentrating on “staying inside the lines.” When we become completely engaged in an activity we achieve a state of “flow” that can be almost meditative. Consider the “runner’s high” as another form of this.
Personally, I think coloring is even more fun if you can do it with a kid. When my nieces and nephews were younger, holiday visits often meant finding a quiet corner and engaging in coloring marathons. At the time, I thought we were playing, In retrospect, we may have been practicing a little stress management. Holidays with the family aren’t always easy.
But coloring can be useful with adults. When I was doing lots of organization design and development programs, I would often have the conference room table set up with boxes of crayons and art paper. The president and vice president would arrive and, while waiting for our session to begin, many would open the crayons and smell them, smiling with evoked childhood memories. The activity itself might be “draw a picture of how you see this organization…” It always took a while to get them started–unfortunately our childhood art skills and courage get surpressed as we “grow up.” But there were always some great and often revealing results.
I was a little disappointed recently when a friend who is very artistically talented said that she’d never call herself an artist because that is not a career choice she’ll be making. We are all artists, really. Art is about many things such as creativity and expression. We can see and use art in different ways. We don’t have to make a living with art, but art can help us make a life.
So I salute the Canaan Library for the reminder. Drawing and coloring are good. In fact, I think I’ll start keeping a box of crayons on my desk.