CollegeEducationWellness

Finals have finished up (hopefully) for students across the nation, and during the beginning of this New Year adult coloring books have become a hot new present to get for young adults. They’ve quickly rose up the ranks of what to give a stressed out adult, or better, to just get one for yourself. Coloring books are bringing back a childhood favorite to adults looking for a better way to relieve stress and anxiety that comes with being a grown-up. As a trend that started in France and found a wide range of success in the United States, these coloring books are often filled with pages of intricate patterns designed to destress the mind and bring about the concept of mindfulness while also playing into a simple, youthful activity.

Here are five compelling reasons to give a loved one – or even yourself – a coloring book.

The Rhythmic and Repetitive Patterns Help Relieve Stress and Anxiety

How often do you see a stressed out seven-year-old? Not too often, I’m sure. And how often do you see a seven-year-old happily coloring in his or her coloring book? Quite often. Bringing this coloring craze to adults was not originally intended to act as a study on the correlation between coloring and stress, yet its trendiness has proven that there is some connection to the rhythmic motion of coloring that helps you shut your brain off to focus on nothing more than deciding what color to use next. Its repetitive patterns, especially the mandala-filled books, give your hands something to do when being mindless, such as watching TV.

They’re a Form of Art Therapy

In 2010, the American Journal of Public Health came out with a review that supported the connection between the impact of art on healing and health, with over one hundred studies to back it. Creative therapies – such as performance, writing, and yes, coloring – have been proven to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and negative emotions, along with improving mental flow, expression, spontaneity, and positive emotions. These coloring books are the perfect way for people who do not find themselves to be quite artsy, but need or enjoy a creative outlet.

They’re a Creative Outlet for Non-artists

Somewhere along the line people might lose their creativity from their childhood. These coloring books give adults a path back to that creativity in a non-threatening manner. It could be just what someone is looking for in terms of creatively choosing whether to color a flower red or green, or it could be a step into a more creative path and creating their own art entirely. For whatever type of person out there, coloring books give adults a good excuse to be creative in their own way.

They Bring us Back to Our Childhood

Nostalgia is a strong tool, and coloring is a perfect example of that. A trend as of late, especially amongst Millennials, is to revert back to their childhood experiences, such as adult summer camps and now coloring books. The adult aspect of it – not coloring in your favorite cartoon characters but rather intricate design – gives adults that guilt-free excuse to go back to an old and partially forgotten hobby. It’s also a low commitment – there is no need for batteries, you can stop at any time, and you don’t need to take classes to learn this skill. Its simplicity speaks for itself.

They’re a Unique Way to be Social

Gather around your closest friends, a couple packets of colored pencils, and color together! With each new trend, there’s bound to be a way to make it a social event – and maybe that’s not a bad thing. Since it’s not a very active activity, coloring can be done while chatting and relaxing with a group of friends.

College students are known for be constantly stressed during the semester, but oftentimes cannot find the best outlet to relax, zone out, destress, etc. These coloring books are becoming more readily available, both in bookstores and online. So if you are stressed out or know someone that is, here’s a great way to mellow out for a short while and zone out – in the most adult fashion, of course.

Image: Flickr

Education

When you’re in high school or college, most of your time is spent around people your age. We become absorbed in the humor, language, and habits of those in our age group. Even when seeking advice, peers are often times the first ones we turn to for a sense of understanding. Our common ground is our shared space in time, and there is something very comforting and familiar about that.

However, there are two untapped pools of wisdom that we are missing out on when we stay age-centric. While we are trekking through the first quarter of our lives, we need to learn as much as we can from the two groups of people that flank the spectrum of life: children and the elderly.

So, what exactly can they teach us? Well for starters, we all need to stop worrying about everything. Karl Pillemer, a Ph.D in gerontology at Cornell University, interviewed over a thousand elderly Americans and asked them for some good old (pun intended) life advice. Over and over again in 30 Lessons for Living, the interviewees talked about how they regret having spent so much time mindlessly worrying about things out of their control. Rather than letting moments pass by in constant anxiety, they talked about the importance to “take time to craft the story of your life” instead. It’s more about investing in your legacy, and less about the things that can get in your way. Even the young ones of the world have similar sentiments.

“Children are happy because they don’t have a file in their minds called “All the Things That Could Go Wrong.”

– Marianne Williamson

For budding adults, that file in our minds just seems to get larger and larger with each decision we make. If we want a bit of childish ease to rub off on us, it’s best to keep observing how they choose to live. In a Ted Talk with internationally renowned speaker and author Caroline McHugh, childhood is discussed as a place in our lives in which people are most authentic. McHugh says that “when you’re a kid, you’re fantastic at being yourself because you don’t know how to disguise your differentness.” Kids are not afraid to show up in the world as themselves. They may be unaware, but they are also unaffected by the judgment of others. There’s a beauty in that sort of freedom of thought, that no matter what kind of millennial dilemma we may be going through, we can choose to hide less of ourselves and be proud of who we are.

Those with just a few years under their belt and those with only a few years left, these are the people that have a lot to share. Lighten up a little, feel self-assured, and enjoy what is right in front of you: today.

Image: Gratisography

HealthSkills

It’s 3 a.m. on a Saturday and we’re pulling an all-nighter and studying for our test on Tuesday and preparing for that big event and planning our next organization meeting and fixing our resume for Monday’s interview and… we’re forgetting to take a breath because we’re on our fourth cup of coffee in the last two hours. Sound familiar? It’s a lot to handle during adolescence and adulthood, when life is already throwing so many new changes and obstacles our way.

It’s a mad rush to pad our resumes, make the cut for dean’s list, or secure the best job, and while ambition is so important in these years, rest is, too. Not the kind of rest that involves lying on the couch in front of the TV, one hand in a chip bag and one hand surfing Facebook on our phone. I’m talking about the kind of rest that allows us to rejuvenate and care for ourselves.

In college, I only gave myself the potato chip kind of rest, on the very rare occasions that I actually even “rested.” I worked my butt off and tried, to no end, to be perfect and the best at a lot of things that looked amazing on my resume but didn’t even make me that happy. In fact, they brought me anxiety. Not stress; stress is normal and can be healthy. Anxiety is not, and neither is perfection. I was lost, and I refused to slow down to ask myself where this lost feeling was coming from, and if it was even real.

That strategy didn’t work. Halfway through my senior year, I became burnt out and depressed to the point that I wanted to throw everything away and hide under the covers for the entire semester. Coming from a school known for its overcommitted students, I was not the only person I knew who felt this way. I was tired of trying to please everyone but myself. I finally began asking myself what was up, which led me down a life-changing path where I made the changes that now allow me to enjoy the things I commit myself to.

You see, ignoring feelings of intense pressure or anxiety, and pushing ourselves to unrealistic limits can lead us to burn out. In order to avoid it, we can do a few things:

1. We must stop and listen.

This means that, when we feel an emotion we don’t like, we don’t push it away and run from it. No amount of ignoring will keep us from feeling what we feel. When we learn to respect our emotions and ask what is causing them, we can really get somewhere. It is this kind of questioning that slowly brings us closer to ourselves and allows us to make important discoveries and necessary changes in our priorities and relationships.

2. We must be ok with what we are feeling.

We have to stop judging ourselves. One of the greatest contributors to adolescent and young adult stress and confusion is the need to be perfect. The thing that can be so difficult to realize is that when we fail, when we’re angry, when we react poorly, and when we screw up, we’re being humans, and we need to try to be ok with that. Otherwise, we will be unable to let go of our fear of failure, preventing us from genuinely, passionately devoting ourselves to what we love.

3. We need to take naps.

Why do they only happen in pre-K? We all need them. A short 15 minute power nap can really do wonders for our bodies, which sometimes need a chance to unwind, regroup, and chill. And getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night, if we can swing it, is key.

4. We need to discover what it is that we love, and make time to do it.

This can be a process, so don’t freak out if you don’t have a clue what it is. Taking a few minutes, even just once a week, to try out something new or deepen an existing hobby is a good first step. It may be trial and error, but soon we realize we can actually make time for these little moments.

5. We need to learn to say “no.”

I know that this one is tougher than it sounds. We’re taught to work and work and work, more than anyone else in the office, even if it means 10 hour days with no lunch break or accepting yet another position as president of yet another campus club. When we spread ourselves thin, we don’t allow ourselves to give our best to any one thing, and that isn’t fair to ourselves. Saying “no” when we aren’t able to take on a commitment is not bad, insulting or mean. It is responsible and smart.

Burnout is so very common among young adults, and it’s important to recognize when it may be happening to us. It can be scary and foreign to admit to it and attempt to change things, but addressing it can bring us a sense of peace, along with the energy and motivation to be our very best.

Do you have any tips for staying motivated and avoiding burnout? Let us know below or tweet to us!

Image: Mike Hoff