coloring as therapy.

I mentioned last week that while I was sick a while back my sister and niece brought me a get well gift that included an adult coloring book and some colored pencils.

As it turns out, I really enjoy coloring!

Did you know that coloring can be incredibly therapeutic?  Just google it, there are tons of articles out there about how it is similar to meditation in that it allows us to switch off our brains from other thoughts and focus on the moment .

According to this article, ‘researchers have discovered that coloring activities help relax the amygdala – the section of the brain that is activated in situations where you feel stressed or scared.’

Do you suppose people would look at me funny if I brought a coloring book to my next dentist appointment?

In addition, according to that same article, coloring ‘opens up the frontal lobe of the brain- the home of organizing and problem solving – and focuses the mind.’

I don’t know about you, but I can certainly use more of all of the above.  And I have to admit, I do feel more relaxed and less stressed while coloring.  I suspect that painting furniture has a similar impact on the brain.  It’s just a bit more physical labor than coloring.

Recently my niece got a new job as a manager at a Barnes & Noble, so last weekend my sister and I visited her at work.  While there I found some great coloring books, like the Secret London one pictured above (and below).

I also purchased a set of 75 colored pencils.  At 75% off, they only cost a little over $8 … a bargain.  Although to be honest, as I’ve been using them I think I got what I paid for.  The leads are broken in many of them, so as I try to sharpen them the points just keep falling off.  I think I’m going to have to invest in some better pencils if I keep this up.  After all, it’s supposed to be relaxing, not frustrating.

But meanwhile, the pencils came in a huge, tacky, molded plastic case.  Obviously that was not going to cut it for me.  So I pulled out this toolbox I picked up last summer at a garage sale.

It just needed a bit of a re-do to make it perfect for storing my ‘art supplies’ (I can call them that even though I’m just coloring, right?)

I started out by painting it with the same Homestead House Laurentien milk paint that I used on those adorable little folding chairs from last week.  I had a bit leftover from that project so this was a great way to use it up.  But first I added a bit of Miss Mustard Seeds’ Bonding Agent to make sure the paint would adhere well to the metal toolbox.  I wasn’t sure what kind of oily residue might still be on the box, although I did scrub it down with some grease cutting dish soap first.

Once it was painted, I sanded it down to both make it smooth and to distress the edges.  Then I pulled out the same Overflowing Love transfer that I used on the last toolbox I revamped.

I still had quite a few designs left in this set to choose from.

I added a section of french wording (at least I’m assuming that is French) to the front of the toolbox, and a little butterfly above it on the lid.

Then I wrapped a floral section of the transfer around the opposite corner of the toolbox.

Once I had the transfers in place I sealed the entire box inside and out with The Real Milk Paint Co’s Finishing Cream in Dead Flat.  Then I used some scrapbook paper to line the inside.

So much better than a molded plastic case, don’t you agree?

If, like me, you’re looking for a way to turn off the noise in your head for a bit, consider giving coloring a try.  You’ll probably need a cool toolbox to keep your supplies in too!

28 thoughts on “coloring as therapy.

  1. I will be borrowing this wonderful idea, if you don’t mind. And heading to the store after work today for some coloring books and colored pencils… already have the old toolbox. Can’t wait to enjoy some relaxation.

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  2. After I enjoyed my “adult” coloring book that I received from my sister, I bought a similar one geared to children but not a kiddy coloring book! My 6 year old granddaughter loves coloring alongside her Dad, while he enjoys his own coloring. I can imagine that working on a puzzle is similar to coloring in the way it destresses you!! Color on, Linda!!

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  3. Oh I might need to do this. I always loved to color.
    I can’t say enough how wonderful the tool box came out. Love love love it. Do you think you could paint it with Fusion Mineral paint and get a simular result. I’ve never used milk paint before.
    Love what you do. You are so creative. Thank you for inspiring me.

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    1. You’re very welcome, and yes, you can absolutely use Fusion. I’ve painted quite a few toolboxes in Fusion (and chalk paint too). In fact, adding the Bonding Agent to milk paint does make it behave more like an acrylic paint (like Fusion). And of course, the Fusion is available in this same color, Laurentien! The added bonus is that you won’t need a topcoat when using Fusion.

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  4. Looks like good Minnesota winter therapy to me. I love how a little paint and a beautiful transfer can make an ordinary old, but useful, toolbox so much fun. Stay warm.

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  5. I love this. I’m an Occupational Therapist and my last job was on an inpatient behavioral health unit. This is actually one of the treatment modalities we used in the hospital (amongst other creative projects like jewelry, leather tooling, painting, etc) for those exact reasons. Sometimes, well often times, it was difficult to get patients to “buy into” the idea. One of the doctors used to intervene and say before there were medications, this was therapy. It’s amazing how much of a difference I saw in behavior after an hour of creativity. More calm demeanors, increased abilities to problem solve, increased sociability…so many benefits. So, yes, bring that coloring book to stressful events! I know, for myself, that’s part of why I love projects so much, they make me happy!

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    1. I think that’s what draws me (pardon the pun) to painting furniture too. I always feel calm and peaceful when painting something. So many people tell me they dislike painting and I just don’t get it. Tom Sawyer could have easily persuaded me to paint his fence 😉

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  6. If you brought your supplies in the cute little toolbox, I think everyone at the dentist would be jealous that they don’t have a distraction!

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  7. You always have such great ideas. I love this little pencil/crayon box ❤️ I love to color too, with or without my grandchildren. I have some little metal boxes in my shed. I am going to try this! Thanks Linda for sharing 😊

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  8. I love your art supply box – it’s beautiful! You’re very clever. You’ve inspired me to paint and try my hand again at transfers. My husband brought home one of those ugly,long, metal, filing cabinet card catalog things that really has no use. I figure if I have to have it in my house, I don’t have to tolerate it being ugly, banged up and rusty. I’m going to paint it and see if the rest of the transfers that came with that one faulty one that left “tiny bubbles” everywhere are any good. If they leave little bubbles than so be it – it’ll still look better than it does now. You are a font of inspiration!

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    1. I think that’s a great philosophy Christie, if you have to have it in your house you don’t have to tolerate it being ugly. I need to apply that to a few of the more utilitarian things at my house.

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      1. I’ve painted all kinds of things in my house. If it’s ugly, I paint it. When I first started painting, my husband thought I’d lost my ever-loving mind because I painted everything. if I didn’t like it or it was old or boring, I painted. Honestly, I still do. There’s not much of anything left in my house – even everyday items – that hasn’t been prettied up. LOL!

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