Colour me Unstressed

A while ago, I wrote a little primer on stress, the upshot of which is; stress is bad, so you should reduce your stress as much as possible, and where it’s not possible to reduce your stress, you should learn and develop coping methods for it.

Somewhere else I wrote a little bit on one of the really good methods for coping with your stress; breathing. Now, when I wrote that little bit on breathing, something was niggling at the back of my brain, but I just couldn’t tease out what it was.

What was it?

The breathing exercise I gave you is has a name. In fact, it has at least a couple of them; square breathing and box breathing. I recently ran into a video on it, where the guy called it box breathing, and referred back to Special Operators using it to control their stress reactions.

Granted, I didn’t quite give you square breathing, I modified it a little to make it a little easier, a little more basic, but that’s not the point. The point is, if Green Berets, Seals and the like are using this little breathing exercise for their stress levels, you’ve gotta figure it can work for you.


Another fun little thing I came across recently was a stress relieving activity I have never considered. Not one I’ve never done, mind you, just one I never considered using for stress relief:


It turns out that the act of colouring, not drawing or painting a picture, just…choosing a colour and staying inside the lines, can be a powerful tool for calming you down. Well, if you’re not me, anyway, I hate colouring.

Anyway, this got me to thinking. A couple of years ago there was an explosion of adult colouring books. My wife got one, her sister and their cousins got one. Over Christmas, large numbers of her cousins gather up here and one evening the girls had a colouring party.

They were having so much fun our 6 y/o got himself involved, so we got him a fancy colouring book and a set of 100 gel pens. I’ve noticed that when he’s feeling stressed out, and this whole Bat Flu nonsense has been a bit hard on him, he pulls out his colouring book and gel pen set.

He’s developed quite an eye for colour, and his fine motor control is amazing. But more than that, it gives him a sense of control in a world where 6 year olds otherwise have none.

I genuinely feel for the little guy; he’s stuck at home, he can’t play with his friends, or go visit his grandparents. He knows he didn’t do anything wrong, but he’s grounded here with his brothers and me. Fortunately, he’s discovered a wonderful way to help himself, without consciously knowing it.

When you’re worried, or down, or stressed out, why don’t you take a page out of my little man’s book. Get yourself a colouring book and 100 gel pens, and find a little control in a world seemingly gone mad.