Dancing in the Rain: Lessons Learned on my Personal Journey with PD (more at www.PDPlan4Life.com) Copyright 2013-16 Sheryl Jedlinski
By Sheryl Jedlinski
We all know that daily exercise can help us better manage our Parkinson’s symptoms, but who would have thought that adult coloring books could help as well. This discussion takes me back to childhood memories of my Dad buying me Venus Paradise color by number sets when illness kept me out of school. I loved everything about these kits, especially the fact that if I colored within the lines and used the colors specified, I would create a “perfect” image suitable for framing. Perfect is my favorite word as it relates to my performance.
Fast forward 50 years. Adult coloring books are all the rage, topping bestseller lists across the country. You can buy them everywhere from drug stores to mini-marts to online outlets. Whatever your interests — be they images from nature and kaleidoscope patterns or insects and sports – there is a coloring book for you. In fact, there are so many, that it took me longer to choose my first book than to color my first picture—a close up of the Statue of Liberty’s head.
The subject is only one consideration when buying a coloring book, though a critical one. Researchers have found that we can get the biggest bang for our buck by coloring Mandalas. These “round and round patterns and concentric circles of ancient designs” relax the mind and also keep the “artist” focused on the present. Equally important is the complexity of the puzzle as a whole, and the number and size of the pieces. Some illustrations are made up of many large spaces to color, while others have very fine details that require a steady hand… something few people with Parkinson’s manage to hold on to. If you feel more creative, choose a coloring book that lets you decide what colors go where. If you find the number of colors too overwhelming, stay with the color by number method.
I opted to start by coloring Lady Liberty’s crown, diving in without much of a plan. I quickly realized that if I wanted a neat appearance I must first outline each piece with my fine tip marker and then fill in with the broad brush. The only reason I have this fancy, boxed set of 30 artist’s markers it that my husband was making up for never having had a new box of 64 crayons to call his own. Instead, he had to use a cigar box full of crayon stubs left behind by his older siblings.
So, grab a coloring book and some colored pencils or markers, unleash your artistic creativity, and watch your stress and anxiety melt away. I plan to try this when I wake up in the middle of the night in the hope that coloring will help me get back to sleep.