creating mandalas

Relieve stress by coloring mandalas

Coloring mandalas and creating Zentangle-inspired art have been two important ways for me to relieve stress over the years. Creative play is a powerful tool for helping us to relax and stay present in the moment. The key to relieving stress is discovering what works best for you. This mandala was one I created last summer. First I filled in the template with tangle patterns and then colored it with Prismacolor colored pencils, they are so creamy and delicious to work with.

Why we need to manage stress

There are many areas of life that might cause us stress: marriage, kids, finances, health, family, work… We need to manage stress because stress makes us grumpy, it can make us physically ill, it takes all the fun out of life. We find ourselves snapping at co-workers, griping to our spouses or lying in bed crying and unable to move. If we want to serve the world and be present for our families, we must learn to relieve stress. Learning to manage stress is the most important key to creating a joyful and fulfilling life.

One of the ways I help my coaching clients is by creating clarity for their life. We can’t create what we want if we don’t really know what we want. We just end up spinning like a top in the wind unable to stop itself.

Coloring mandalas is one of the ways I come back to center and look at myself and my life as whole, balanced and beautiful. I have been creating and coloring mandalas for many years.

In fact, I would say that more important than managing stress is learning to completely eradicate stress from our lives. Is this possible? I believe it is.

Here are 3 suggestions for creative and fun ways to relieve stress:

1. Color mandalas with crayons!

Remember how it felt when you were a child with a new box of crayons?

All those brilliant colors, sharp tips and funny names! Opening a box of crayons will remind you how to be creative again. Whether you go buy a new box or raid your kids’ stash, print out a mandala template, grab a few crayons and just color. You don’t have to create a picture of anything. There is no judgement about quality. This is not about making fine art, it’s about relaxing into joy for a few minutes.

Focusing on what you are coloring will help relieve stress in three ways:

  • It is a distraction from whatever negative thoughts you were focusing on.
  • Coloring keeps your hands busy, allowing your mind to wander. I solve a lot of problems and come up with some creative ideas when I am doodling.
  • Connecting with our creative source is healing. We are all creative beings. Remembering how to be creative is a powerful way to relieve stress. When we remember how creative we are, we know we can solve any problem.

Here is a link to a fun page full of mandala patterns for coloring. I own several mandala coloring books created by Susanne Fincher. My kids and I love coloring her mandalas and will often spend a Sunday afternoon coloring in the craft room while listening to a book on tape. Right now, we are listening to The Hobbit.

2. Play with Playdough!

No kids with Playdough at home? No problem, here is a simple recipe to make some play-dough or go buy some at the local dollar store. It’s time to get physical!

  • Allow yourself to really play with the playdough like you did when you were a child.
  • Feeling sad or anxious? Pound the playdough flat with your fist or palm.
  • Shape the playdough into a ball and throw it at the floor to see what happens.
  • Make snakes, towers, rocks, flowers, whatever inspires you! Allow yourself to play for 15 to 30 minutes.

This type of tactile experience is a great way to relieve stress, anger, frustration or disappointment. When we allow ourselves time for self-care, we are better able to manage stress. The more time we give ourselves to play freely, the closer we can come to eradicating stress from our lives.

3. Play in the mud! Or plant something in your garden!

Did you make mudpies as a child? I did, and I made my brother taste them. My cousin Lainy and I loved to play in the mud and my aunt would give us left over aluminum pie plates to fill with mud and doodle bugs.

I still love to dip my toes in the mud, squish them around, cover my hands and let the mud ooze out through my fingers. Don’t say, “Oh, gross.” Don’t worry about getting dirty, we are washable and so are our clothes, just wear grubby clothes.

Do you live near the beach? You can do this in the sand, too!

Playing in the mud will help you relieve stress by:

  • Getting outside in nature
  • Getting some fresh air
  • Remembering what it feels like not to care about getting dirty
  • Reconnecting to earth in a playful, child like manner.
  • Allowing you to be silly!

As you can see, there is a theme to my little known ways to relieve stress. PLAY is a powerful tool for managing stress and reconnecting to what makes us happy. We have to be intentional about how me manage stress if we truly want to eradicate from our lives.

How do you relieve stress by playing?

Need help relieving stress in your life? Consider joining my HeartWise Sister Circles, a program designed just for women who are trying to relieve stress and need a safe place to share their story, get tips on finding balance in their life and discover creative ideas for managing stress on a daily basis, at home or at the office.