The 7-Day Color Challenge.

Monique shares her journey through 7 days of coloring. Follow Monique’s progress as she spends each day in a state of relaxation, coloring with free pages from the new Jesus Calling: Creative Coloring and Hand Lettering.

The 7-Day Color Challenge

Color schemes, tools, a space…

Mixed media?

Is this going to turn out perfect?

All these questions swirl about my mind as the printer works on giving me a new coloring project.

January is full of new beginnings, promises for the future, and resolutions galore. I have many resolutions this year, ranging from exercising consistently to reading more to learning how to relax and enjoy the moment.

Who knew relaxing could be a resolution? 

As a therapist, I often suggest coloring to help lower a person’s anxiety level. I enjoy coloring myself, but have never done it regularly. It makes sense that coloring could help me achieve relaxing more and in turn be able to enjoy moments with myself, my husband, and family. So, coloring it is!

My resolution is to get into coloring by trying it for 7 days in a row. Each day I will color for at least 15 minutes in a cozy spot set aside for me. This feels like a reasonable and attainable goal. My fine point Sharpie markers are ready, along with a blanket and some good lighting. After coloring, I will write a reflection about the experience and rate how relaxed I feel on a scale of 1-5, 5 being completely relaxed and present with myself and others.  

This could be the first New Year’s Resolution I manage to keep!

Day 1

Day one of coloring a free coloring sheet.

Time Spent Coloring: 15 minutes

Relaxed State: 1

My perfectionism and insecurities are coming at me with full-force, even before making a mark on the page.

It has to be perfect? It’s a free coloring page! Why must I always strive for perfection?

This is supposed to be a project to help me unwind and have some downtime. Yet, I’ve turned it into a competition with myself. Because everything must have meaning, and must be perfect. Perfection, and nothing less.

When I was a kid, coloring brought me such joy– I could color for hours! It didn’t need to be perfect, meaning wasn’t mandatory. Is it possible to get back to that? Could I one day lay in the sun and color freely, without care, worry, and without self-doubting?

I sure hope so. I really liked that dirty, tomboy-looking girl with bits of breakfast caught her curls. I liked the girl to could color away the day- that is pure joy.

I want that.

Maybe- hopefully- today is the beginning of going back in time to get that joy back. I don’t feel any more relaxed now than before my pen marked the page. All the insecurities and perfectionistic goals are running rampant. This is definitely not what “relaxed” feels like!

Day 2

The bird is finished in this coloring sheet.

Time Spent Coloring: 15 minutes (and another 45 minutes later in the evening)

Relaxed State: 3

Why only 15 minutes? It’s just enough time to begin relaxing, clear my head, and go with whatever creative whims that come to mind. A few minutes later, the timer goes off. 15 minutes just isn’t enough time. It’s limiting.

I said 15 minutes because it’s attainable. I can spare 15 minutes for just about anything. It’s okay to spend only 15 minutes on coloring. It’s also okay to spend more time coloring, and not have a time limit.

Overall, today was a good day to color and way better than yesterday. Work was baffling and stressful, full of looming deadlines and new concepts to grapple with. I almost skipped coloring to rush on to chores and making dinner. I’m glad I didn’t.

Instead, coloring calmed me down and helped me let go of the workday. I’m currently staring at a pile of laundry and feel like that pile can just wait to be folded. I feel more able to transition into a relaxing evening where I can be present with my family. That unfolded laundry does not define me, who I am as an adult, a wife, or a working professional. It can wait.

That alone feel nice. It feels like freedom.

Maybe I’ll just color the night away with a cozy cup of tea.

Day 3

More progress is made on this coloring project.

Time Spent Coloring: 20 minutes

Relaxed State: 3

Today was crazy, with a capital C!

It’s days like today that make me regret the lofty resolutions I come up with. The perfectionist side berates me for lacking motivation to continue such goals. The procrastinator within whispers, “It’s okay to wait until tomorrow. Maybe if you wait, you’ll be able to color and write with a fresh, clear mind!”

But I did it– I ignored the perfectionist and the procrastinator.

My time today was good even after overcoming those battles. It only took a few minutes for my shoulders to relax, for my mind to wander and process the chaotic day. I’ve already begun to notice the signs of my relaxed self and how it feels in my body– relaxed shoulders, no moving feet or fidgeting fingers, the pain between my shoulder blades dissipates into the background.

There really is something to this coloring thing!

Day 4

Coloring challenge is halfway done.

Time Spent Coloring: 90 minutes

Relaxed State: 2

I colored a lot today to ease my anxiety. To find a way to pray without words.

I colored while my Mom was in surgery. I colored while I waited, while I asked God if all of this was necessary, while I questioned the Lord and His goodness. I colored while I scolded myself for questioning God.

I’m now more than halfway through this 7-day challenge. Here’s my honest opinion: It’s growing on me. I like it.

Coloring keeps my physical body busy while my mind processes the million thoughts flying through my head, the events of the day, my emotions at each point, and even the quiet insecurities and doubts I hate to acknowledge. It’s a moment to slow down and actually think about the events and thoughts of the day, and how I really feel.

Coloring reminds me of how fast life goes, without a moment to reflect. We’re expected to just keep going, keep acting, reacting, and moving forward. When are we supposed to reflect? Pause? Maybe all the busyness is to avoid said reflecting and pausing. That can be a scary thing- to acknowledge one’s inner emotions and fears, one’s insecurities.

It’s a hard thing for me, sitting here in the recovery room, waiting for my Mother to awake. Coloring is almost forcing me to acknowledge my fears, my anger, and the resentment hiding in the darkness. Yet, somehow, it doesn’t feel forced upon me. Instead, the hard acknowledgments come in gentle waves, with a lot of compassion.

I can handle that. I can handle all that comes about as I zone out on my free coloring page and Sharpie markers.

Day 5

Making progress with a free coloring sheet.

Time Spent Coloring: 15 minutes (barely)

Relaxed State: 3

I colored for exactly 15 minutes, minus the time it took to get my markers out and figure out what to color next. I did it. That was all I could muster up for today. That’s good enough considering it’s Day 5 and I’m still doing this thing!

Coloring still allowed my mind to process and acknowledge my true feelings today.

There are signs my physical body is more relaxed, even with the bare minimum. Coloring still allowed my mind to process and acknowledge my true feelings today.

Day 6

Almost done with this coloring challenge.

Time Spent Coloring: 25 minutes

Relaxed State: 4

It’s snowing. I have a cup of tea, am sitting in my comfy chair, and enjoyed my coloring experience today.

With this challenge coming to a close, I can see and feel the many benefits of coloring daily:

  • Relaxing has come faster, easier with using coloring to transition from work to the evening hours
  • While coloring, I’m able to process and accept several thoughts and emotions toward the day. All this is done as an almost stream of consciousness, mindfulness exercise. This doesn’t require me to journal, actively think, or strive for reflection; it happens naturally and gently.
  • After coloring, my body feels calm and loose. My shoulders go down a few inches, the stress-induced pain in my back melts away, and all my muscles are relaxed as if I just took a hot bath.
  • I am able to be more present and aware with myself and family. Lingering thoughts about work, chores, and responsibilities don’t invade my conversations and thoughts. I’ve found that coloring helps me refocus and able to stop intrusive thoughts from hindering moments with my husband, or with myself.

I’m amazed- and proud- that I’m almost done with this self-imposed challenge. I haven’t quit, gotten behind, or made excuses that would allow me to put this goal on hold. This may be the first resolution I’ve ever kept! Maybe I shouldn’t say that yet; I still have one more day to go.

Day 7

Last day of the color challenge and almost done with this coloring page.

Time Spent Coloring: 15 minutes

Relaxed State: 3

It’s the last day for coloring. Even after 15 minutes, I didn’t finish my free coloring page.

It should be obvious that I’ve loved coloring these past 7 days; I wholeheartedly support this trend. This challenge has been of great benefit to me. My physical, emotional, and spiritual selves have greatly benefitted from this experience. And this has helped me achieve my goal to relax more this year and be more present with myself and others.

While coloring, I’m able to process and accept several thoughts and emotions toward the day.

If you haven’t tried coloring today, I encourage you to attempt the 7-day challenge! Gather all the coloring supplies you can, pick out a new free coloring sheet, or new coloring book, and get started. Take a moment to reflect, and really see if coloring can help you de-stress from all the chaos and activity of the world.  

Download your own free coloring page, then share your experience with us!

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