Some time back, I wrote about getting a new cellphone to replace my old, archaic one which barely made and accepted calls and texts. I’m pleased to say that the new phone is serving me very well. Reception is much better plus I have the internet in my pocket most of the time now, a very real asset while sitting in the interminably long lines waiting to pick up prescriptions or groceries.

I’ve also enjoyed playing the games — word games, puzzles, hidden object games and more, but especially the color-by-number games.

Several years ago, I wrote some features for The Daily Times on the therapeutic benefits adults can find in coloring after what was once a childhood pastime had taken on a new popularity and a new look for grownups. Coloring clubs were forming where adults could reap the benefits of an activity that had given them such pleasure when they were children without having to “sneak” and use their own children as an excuse to bring out the crayons. (Ask me how I know about that!) The burgeoning market for adult coloring books and supplies was another indication as to how popular the hobby was becoming. According to different people I interviewed, including mental health professionals, authors of some of the new books and friends who had taken up the hobby, the simple act of coloring is almost like a meditative practice, where the mind and body are integrated and relaxed. One friend in particular, a US Army veteran who had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after a tour in the Middle East, said color therapy had been suggested to help calm her mind and relieve the anxiety attacks she had been plagued with for years. Others said coloring helped them unwind after a stressful day at work, relieved depression and kept them centered in the present moment rather than giving in to anxiety about the future.

Coloring with physical pages, crayons, pencils, markers and other media is a good grounding exercise, but sometimes you can’t carry those things around with you. Having an app on your phone is a good choice for those times. From what I’ve seen, there are a number of free apps available and you can choose what you like best, whether it’s the color-by-number that I enjoy most or a paint-by-number where one click splashes a swath of colors across an entire section of the “page.” I haven’t run across any yet that allow the user to choose their own color palette but that’s not to say there aren’t any. Right now I’m happy with the colors chosen for me.

In this day and time when the world appears to be a most inhospitable place, when a pandemic is causing so much anxiety, when concerns about the economy, the government and our society in general weigh so heavily on our minds, it’s good to find a way to decompress, reduce the stress, restore feelings of well-being and ease some of the toll this constant pressure can take on our health, both mentally and physically.

Check out the free coloring games on your phone if you want to try this out. I also searched on my computer and found free coloring games for both children and adults if that’s what you’d prefer. Or go the traditional route and purchase a box of crayons, markers or pencils and sit down with a coloring book. You can even find pages online to print and color rather than purchase a coloring book.

No matter what you choose, take a break from the anxiety and let your mind heal. The better we feel emotionally, the better we will be able to handle the stresses along the way.

Contact Linda Braden Albert with story ideas at LindasInkyfingers@comcast.net.

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