If I’m not moving in some way, whether it’s ticcing, typing, folding clothes, or standing and walking around, I’m nearly unable to focus. The funny thing is that this got worse when I was in my teen years, which I always thought was odd, and it’s continued to be a problem into adulthood.
A while back, I wrote about starting an experiment where I was going to try praying while coloring. The whole idea was to give myself a chance to spend longer, unbroken portions of time with God, times where I could simply talk with him without interruption. My problem was that my brain, jumpy as it is, and my body, jumpy as well, made this basically impossible. I would just get to praying when some random thought popped into my head. And the more I would try and focus on getting that thought out, the more I would tic, which was just another distraction.
Houston, Mission was Unsuccessful
The idea of using art to help me focus was a good one. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work for prayer. To this day, I’m finding that I simply do better to pray in short bursts as the day goes. In the shower, in the car, while I’m doing dishes. Basically, if I find something I need to pray about, I do it then and there. If I have a particular need to pray and be alone with God, I’ll sometimes use an actual prayer book (The Valley of Vision is my particular favorite.) to help me focus on God.
But the coloring just didn’t work. Instead of helping me focus on talking to God, it tapped the creative side of my brain, and I would come up with all new sorts of ideas, rather than focusing on the prayer I wanted to say.
The good news, however, is that I did find a great way to put my new gel pens to use, and it DID involve helping me focus while lowering my tics. (By the way, my gel pens are now starting to dry up. I will accept donations of gel pens from anyone who wishes to restock my supply. Sparkly ones are the best.)
Focusing in Church
It took a little while, but my daughter finally got old enough that I didn’t have to hold her every second of the church service. (We’re about to start all over again, as Gummy Bear is due to arrive any day now.) And when I finally had free hands, I rediscovered my need to move them during church.
Cue the gel pens. And this little beauty:
(I write fairy tales for a living… Can you blame me?)
And I took them to church. When my daughter was in nursery, I began to color to see if it helped me focus on the sermon.
And ohmygoodness! ?When I color during church, I feel like the superhero, Daredevil. It’s like my hearing is magnified tenfold. And for some reason, the coloring doesn’t distract me from hearing the sermon the way it does my prayers. Perhaps because I’m not the one responsible for coming up with anything. I can simply listen. My hands are moving, so I’m not feeling nearly the strain to tic as I usually do, and since I’m not fighting the need to tic, my mind is freed up to listen to the sermon.
Obviously, no one management technique works for everyone. But if you’re an adult who struggles to pay attention while sitting still, or perhaps your child struggles to sit still, this might be something for you to try.
I would recommend something without much text. Text will get your brain moving in another direction, something most of us with focus problems already struggle with. Pictures, however, can be grand, or even just patterns. Create a little kit that’s easy to take with you wherever you need to go, and make sure it’s decently discreet. You don’t want to distract others while you’re trying to focus yourself.
I would say that if this is something you think might annoy a boss or teacher, it might be good to talk to them before attempting this technique. This is the time to self-advocate! Explain how using your hands helps you focus, and that you’ll actually focus more by being allowed to doodle than having to sit still. If they don’t believe you, feel free to show them any of these outside sources:
- 7 Reasons Adult Coloring Books Are Great for Your Mental, Emotional and Intellectual Health – Huffington Post
- Why Adult Coloring Books are Good for You – CNN
- 3 Reasons Adult Coloring Can Actually Relax Your Brain – Cleaveland Clinic
If they don’t like it, perhaps come up with some other way to get use out of this technique. Is there a little notebook you could secretly doodle or color in, even if it’s just with one color at a time? Could you create notepages for your self before the event that you can hide inside of your other notes?
Again, nothing works for everyone, but if you’re struggling to sit stil land listen, I would highly recommend giving this a try.
Have you used coloring as a relaxation tool? Does it help you listen or focus without as much distraction? Please share your thoughts in the comment box below. Also, if you’re interested in getting updates on posts, as well as a free resource guide, subscribe for free to my email list! As always, thanks for reading!