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Coloring Books and Stress: Psychologist’s tips for getting started

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Using coloring books to help relieve stress “is like learning a new habit,” says Craig Sawchuk, a clinical psychologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “New habits are best learned when you set aside routine time each day to focus,” he says. Sawchuk offered a few tips on how to get into the habit of coloring and to make the most of your time once you do.

– While coloring, try to reduce or eliminate other distractions, such as texting or watching television.

– If you initially have trouble sustaining attention, it may be helpful to start with a limited amount of time and gradually increase every few days. For example, begin with five to 10 minutes per day, and then gradually increase by five minutes every week.

– Some people focus better while working on simple, symmetrical designs while others benefit from more complex, abstract patterns. Try both types before giving up.

– The brain craves novelty, so having different options – more than one coloring book – may also be useful in building and strengthening the habit.

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