Happy Monday, Friends!
The sun is shining after more than a week of clouds and rain and it’s so beautiful!! Those days and days of dreariness called for lots of different self-care techniques to keep from biting someone’s head off or just climbing into bed and pulling the covers over my head. We all know it, some days are just harder than others but sunshine helps.
How are you doing? Are you tending your heart so you can reach out and encourage someone else?
Today let’s look at a fun way to take care of yourself: crafting/coloring/doodling. I’ve lumped these together because they share many benefits. However, there are also differences among them. If you know me, you know these 3 things are close to my heart. I cannot tell a lie (in honor of George Washington, whose birthday we neglected this month)! I love to doodle. I love to color. And I love to craft!
Before we start, though, did you know that you are creative? Yep! Drawing a stick figure has nothing to do with creativity! Neither does drawing a straight line. Creativity is all about our DNA. As children of God, our DNA is His and He is the Great Creator. You might paint or draw, you might sing or play an instrument or dance. You might cook fantastic meals or figure out complex math problems. You might know how to put together a sound system or you might invent windshield wipers! There are innumerable ways to be creative. Stop saying you aren’t creative. You ARE creative. Claim it!
This is important: number 1, you do not have to “BE CREATIVE” to doodle/color/craft! All are learned skills (ALL skills are LEARNED skills, whatever they are). And, number 2, there’s very little “skill” involved in doodling or coloring or even crafting.
There are many benefits of crafting: lowers stress and helps you relax; gets your mind off problems, clears the mind of clutter; improves your mood and helps you deal with your emotions. Crafting can boost your brainpower by increasing dopamine, it can create new neurons, promote focus and concentration and combat depression. Crafting boosts confidence and increases empathy. It helps protect your brain from aging. Do you know playing games, reading books and crafting can reduce your chances of developing mild cognitive impairment by 30-50%!
Crafting may require a little “skill” (like how to use a glue stick or cut with scissors) and possibly some instruction. It is creative and produces a little extra beauty in your world without taxing your brain. Yes, it can be complex but it can also be very simple. Start simple. See how you like it!
Coloring adds many of the same benefits to your life as Crafting. It helps turn off racing thoughts and calms the mind. It’s a good way to begin a quiet time/meditation. It helps regulate breathing and bring tranquility. It enables you to express yourself and creates beauty in color. It feels “safe” to those who consider themselves “non-creative” (see above). You’ve already got a lovely picture, all you do is add your favorite colors!
Coloring requires a little effort in that you need a picture to color. (You can get free coloring pages from the internet, by the way.) And it requires colored pencils. I say colored pencils because using crayons can be frustrating when trying to stay within fine lines. And markers are also a little frustrating, being either too fat for the fine lines or too thin for the open spaces. Try different tools. See what works best for you.
I color when I’m stuck creatively. When I need to do something creative but am hitting roadblocks, I break out the coloring book and colored pencils. That enables me to relax and clears away to cobwebs.
While doodling doesn’t seem to have the same anxiety-reducing benefits as crafting and coloring, it does help retain information when engaged in while listening to a speaker. Doodling helps the brain stay awake and attentive. It can help relieve distress and allow the brain to “find” missing memories or help bring a problem into focus. It’s a quiet rebellion against electronic devices because it’s tactile and engages more senses than just hearing and seeing. Doodling helps innovate, solve problems and elevate cognitive performance. Twenty-six of 44 American presidents doodled (I didn’t find any information on whether or not President Trump doodles). It calms the brain’s amygdala- the part that controls flight or fight.
Even more simple than coloring, doodling requires no special tools. All you need is a writing implement and a scrap of paper. You don’t have to consider yourself “creative” to doodle but it can spur creative insight because it lights up different networks in the brain and helps with big picture thinking. Doodling can be little cartoon-like drawings. It can also simply be swirls and straight lines or flowers or stars, hearts or arrows. Any line on a piece of paper can be considered a doodle.
Do you doodle? I do. You should see some of the pages of notes I take! Sometimes I doodle on the doodled notes I make to myself.
You now have “permission” to doodle. Do you think you might try it next time you’re on hold on the phone, or find your dozing off during a lecture? Or maybe when you’re frustrated with a conversation that’s heading south. Try it!
I hope you’ll share your experiences with doodling if you do doodle (do dah, do dah, day). Or please, share your crafting and coloring experiences as well.
Thanks for reading. I hope you’ll find lots of ways to use this week’s self-care tool. Tuck it into your toolbox, ready to pull out at a moment’s notice!
Have a great week full of blessings!
“The Thinking Benefits of Doodling”, http://www.health.harvard.edu