The other evening I came home from work, took a long shower and meditated for a few minutes. All that helped alleviate the some of my daily stress but I still felt restless.
My husband and son were playing video games and I wanted to quiet my mind and forget about the never-ending to-do list running through my mind. I didn't want to watch television, I didn't want to write, and I wasn't in the mood to read. I wanted to do something that didn't really feel like anything.
I remembered that adult coloring books were suddenly all the rage. Recently, I printed some out from Pinterest to save for a rainy day. It wasn't raining, but I decided to give it a try.
Sitting cross-legged on my bed, with my son's colored pencils in hand, I was reminded of my childhood. Coloring was one of my favorite pastimes. I spent hours with my crayons and books. I was meticulous about staying within the lines. And when I finished, I felt good about the pretty picture I "made." My dad and siblings are all artistic. I didn't have the talent to draw and paint, so coloring was a way for me to tap into my creativity. As I grew up, I found other ways to be creative. Instead of coloring an imaginary world, I began to create my own through writing.
Any mom will tell you that motherhood allows you to relive childhood through your kid. When my son was born there were so many things I couldn't wait to do with him; coloring was one of them. It gave me an excuse to return to something I loved.
With each stroke of the pencil, I began to relax. It soon became clear to me why so many grownups are coloring. It's been the breakaway trend of 2015, and adult coloring books are among Amazon's top sellers all year long.
While I sat alone, I focused on the picture, the colors and staying within the lines. I concentrated only on coloring and blocked everything else out. With most tasks, I find myself rushing through to the finish line so I can move on to the next thing. But with coloring I can take my time; there's no pressure to get it over with. Since that evening, I've been obsessed.
Photograph by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez
According to art therapist Drena Fagen in an interview with The Guardian earlier this year, "any creative endeavor that can in some way help somebody discover something about themselves or find a space that makes them feel safe and comfortable or allows them an opportunity to be with their own thoughts, I don't see how we can criticize that."
To be sure, many psychology experts and art therapists say these coloring books are not the same thing as art therapy. However, adult coloring books can be therapeutic and can function as part of a strategy for coping with stress, depression, anxiety and a host of other ailments. And if it helps me relax, what's the harm?
Being a secretary by day, writer by night and mami round the clock, life can get hectic. Finding time in the day to decompress isn't always easy. I now carry colored pencils and a few sheets of coloring pages in my bag wherever I go. I color on my lunch break, during my commute and for a few moments before bed. It's something that can be done almost anywhere, and that I can do (and enjoy) with or without my kid. Coloring makes life just a little bit easier.