Explore Your Creativity with National Coloring Book Day

I’ve been coloring for years. I’ve always found it relaxing. Usually I buy my coloring books at a dollar store. When I’m coloring within the lines (and sometimes not), I forget about everything.

coloring book

Coloring can be meditative.  (Photo by Cynthia Price)

Now coloring is a hot trend. In 2015, 12 million coloring books for adults were sold, up from 1 million in 2014, according to an AARP The Magazine article in the December 2016/January 2017 issue. I was delighted when a friend gave me a Cityscape coloring book. It’s given me hours of relaxation.

The article confirms what I had already discovered: “Coloring puts you into a flowlike state – which can help you focus and relax – and can lower your blood pressure.”

If you want to try coloring, Aug. 2, is the perfect day as it is National Coloring Book Day, a day to relax and color.

“For me, coloring is meditative – it taps a certain part of my brain and requires a repetitive motion to fill in the colors, and I find it relaxing and allows me to tune out other things and focus on one,” says Aliza Sherman, a speaker, author and web pioneer who has championed women in tech since the 1990s. “There is a nostalgia to coloring – it is something we do as children then give up as we grow up. We all crave the comfort and ease of childhood so there is something almost therapeutic for me when I color.”

At the 2015 NFPW conference Aliza spoke about how coloring can help a person disconnect from being too digital. I followed up with her and asked her to tell me more.

“Coloring is something tangible and tactile – two things that are often missing from our digital and online activities and experiences,” Aliza says. “The mental activity of selecting colors and determining where to place the colors can leads to physical activities like picking up crayons or pencils or pens and inspecting them, testing them out, holding them this way and that. Moving the color across the page is a gradual process that builds over time. There is a satisfying feel of color tool to paper or coloring surface. There is satisfaction as the coloring progresses and is completed.”

Coloring and its slowness is the “antithesis of the rapid-fire pace of digital technology,” Aliza notes. “Coloring taps a different part of your brain than technology, lights it up in different ways and calms parts that are jangled from overusing tech and being way too connected online.”

Why not spend Aug. 2 relaxing with a coloring book?

Aliza Sherman thrives in the digital age, but also knows to value self

Aliza Sherman is a speaker, author and web pioneer who has championed women in tech since the 1990s. Newsweek named her one of the “Top People Who Matter Most on the Internet” in 1995. In 2009, Fast Company called her one of the “Most Powerful Women in Technology.”

And while she thrives in the digital age, she recognizes that it also poses some problems.

During the recent NFPW conference she discussed “The Future of Communications in Our Ultra Connected Social Media World.”

Aliza Sherman questions whether 140 characters is enough to be heard. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

Aliza Sherman questions whether 140 characters is enough to be heard. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

“The internet has transformed every way we communicate,” she said. “There are so many layers of complexity.”

Not only do we struggle with consuming all of the information (about 6,000 tweets are tweeted every second), we also have to respond to it (does anyone have an empty inbox?) and determine if the research is accurate.

“As communicators we have to learn to cut through the noise,” Sherman said.

Because we don’t, we are losing our ability to focus. And the noise, she said, stifles our creativity. Some of us obsess over the like button. Some limit their communications to 140 characters (myself included @PriceCynthia).

“Social media has changed our information consumption habits because it has changed our brains,” Sherman said.

The result is that we fight FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and NoMoPhobia (not having a mobile).

Sherman said, “Smarter and more mindful use of technology can transform bad habits into better ones.”

She recommended a few apps to help with attention, focus, productivity and creativity, including:

  • Rescue Time tracks time spent on applications and websites, giving you an accurate picture of your day.
  • Coffitivity plays the ambient sounds of a morning coffee shop or the ambient tones of a university café. You can also upgrade to get ambient sounds from Paris or a Brazilian coffeeshop.
  • Humin manages your contacts and helps you sift through the data.
  • Calm allows you to discover the power of meditation and take a mental break.

Sometimes, though, the best app is no app.

“Give yourself permission to disconnect,” Sherman said. “It all comes down to value. Value yourself. Value your loved ones. Value your life. The future of communications is value.”