Typically, I have 2-3 hours to kill in the evenings. This is after I finish eating dinner. Right after, I watch a little bit of TV and I might play Candy Crush or check social media. And then after, I brush my teeth, take a shower, and change into my pajamas. I try to record something I accomplished or experienced as positive that day. Then, I go straight to my evening activities, which involve less gaming than before and much more coloring.

These days, I think a lot about coloring sheets. I’m not even that great at coloring, but I enjoy it so much. It’s a relaxing activity to help me wind down during the evenings.

The reason I took up coloring is because I wanted to have an activity to help me relax specifically in the evenings. I experience hearing voices, and it used to be pretty active in the evenings. But when I started reading in the evenings, it quieted down. And then one day, I had the idea to color. When I started that, I noticed that the experience was even better. It’s only been a few nights of coloring, but so far, it’s going well. I find coloring to be a good coping skill.

Coloring hasn’t always been the ideal coping skill. Previously, I couldn’t always focus on coloring. My mind was so active. I was focused on other ideas or activities that required more energy. I could only color for 15 minutes or less before I was distracted.

But these days, I’ve been coloring for up to an hour or longer. I don’t really create much nowadays besides blogging. Maybe that’s why? Or, maybe I just needed to do it for a specific purpose or time of day. Not sure exactly what the difference has been between then and now.

The same happened to me with reading. I don’t know if it’s because reading on a tablet is easier. But, now I can read more on a tablet than I can with a hard copy.

Though, I guess I’ve been able to be more selective of what I’m coloring, and I enjoy the medium I’m using. I use dual tip markers, one side with a brush nib and the other side with a fine point. The colors appear vibrant. I can print out whatever sheets look enjoyable to me.

I’m trying to find more engaging material for me to read in the evenings. I started with one book, but have been feeling bored with the text lately. Just to make sure I read at least 20 pages a day, I’ve been reading earlier in the day. It wouldn’t be a problem if I was more engaged. Maybe 20 pages is pushing it. I thought about reducing the number of pages, but I like the idea of sticking to my original goal. So for now, I’ll split reading in the morning and evening just to complete the 30-day challenge. Then after that, I can adjust.

The long-term idea is that I would spend at least half an hour of my evening reading. I don’t really do much else in the evening at the moment. And, I feel like I’m doing something growth-oriented. Reading stimulates my mind.

If my sleep were better, I’d probably just stick to coloring and maybe finding another hobby. Then, I could sleep at 9 PM and wake up at 5 or 6 AM. If I were to wake up that early, I’d spend half an hour to an hour reading. But because my sleep is a bit of a mess right now, I don’t do any of that. I try to stay up later to compensate for typically waking up so late.

That’s another problem I have to troubleshoot. For now, I’m glad I figured out 80% of my evening activities. The other 20% I want to solve is finding alternative activities to turn to as well. I’m not entirely opposed to gaming, but sometimes I feel like I’m not really being social or learning anything. I guess I could argue that coloring isn’t really teaching me anything either. It’s just a fun side hobby. So, maybe I won’t rule out gaming entirely. Gaming has its own benefits.

I think I have to eliminate this mindset of whether I’m using my time in the most efficient manner. Honestly, I don’t even spend my time efficiently during the day. And, life is more than just being productive all the time. Besides, even the most successful aren’t productive 24/7. They rely on self-care, such as going for walks, or reading rather than working straight away, or even just enjoying a nice dinner with friends.

Plus, we never know where certain activities will lead. Some people make entire careers out of gaming, sports, reviewing books, teaching people coloring tricks, networking, and more. So, why am I trying to limit myself? If it’s an activity I enjoy and it’s not harmful to others, it should count for something, right?

I think my next goal after my reading challenge will be to find ways to fix my sleep. I was trying a few different ideas, such as sleeping later. I’m getting mixed results so far. I think part of it is that I worry I might wake up too early, and then what do I do? I have to sort out that gray area.

I’m glad that my evenings are a lot calmer than before. I’m also glad that the activities I’ve chosen feel good to me. I’m not just doing things for the sake of doing things. I’m choosing activities that align with my interests. I hope this positive trend continues.

I remember enjoying coloring books when I was a kid. And even now, as an adult, it is still just as enjoyable. It’s relaxing, and a good way to refocus your attention. It can be especially helpful for people who experience negative thoughts or hear voices.

Coloring is a great coping skill. It doesn’t require much effort. You could search for coloring books on the web to buy. Nowadays, because adult coloring books started to rise in popularity, you can find them in local arts and crafts stores, or even places like Target, Walmart, or CVS.

You don’t even need to buy a coloring book. If you have a printer, you can print out coloring pages online. I’ve printed out a few Christmas ones myself from websites like JustColor.Net.

You could even repurpose your coloring pages. After you finish coloring it all in, you could make envelopes out of them, greeting cards, giftwrap, gift bags, and more. That’s partially why I chose Christmas-themed coloring pages, so I could use them for that specific time.

I started coloring a page I printed from the internet last night. I bought a set of felt tip markers. The markers I got bleed through the paper onto the other side. I guess that’s expected with most markers. I thought about getting colored pencils, but I just like the vibrancy of markers.

Personally as someone who hears voices, I found coloring to be meditative and fun. I didn’t have any particular thought while coloring. I was mostly focused on figuring out which colors would go well together and staying within the lines. I didn’t experience hearing voices during this activity. So, I’m experimenting with it as an evening activity before I go to sleep, to help me to relax and to give me something fun to do.

Some other activities that are similar to coloring may be painting, drawing, or doing puzzles such as word searches, crossword puzzles, or sudoku. I’ve tried painting before, but I stopped because I had difficulty always coming up with an idea for it. Same for drawing. Plus, it requires some skill. Of course, you can practice the skill. Coloring is more accessible to people though, because you don’t have to draw a picture to color. You can find plenty of images online to color, or a book full of coloring pages.

There are apps on your phone or on your tablet that you can download that involved coloring/painting by numbers. I haven’t tried a painting or coloring app. Personally, I like the motion that’s involved with coloring with a marker against a sheet of paper. It requires some hand-eye coordination. I think it’s more fun that just tapping a screen and producing colors. Though, it’s worth a shot for anyone who doesn’t feel like spending money on buying art supplies.

Taking up coloring as a hobby is pretty inexpensive, though. I spent less than $10.00 on a set of 34 colored markers. So even if I found out I didn’t like coloring the first evening, oh well, it’s not more than a movie night, or a dinner out. I could give the markers away to my nieces. No big deal.

Compare it to other hobbies. It’s cheaper than playing a musical instrument, or buying a bike to ride, or even some sports.

So if you’re thinking about getting into the hobby of coloring, I’d say go for it. The risk is minimal. And, it could be good for your mental health.

It also can take a while to do. I thought it’d take me 15 minutes to color in half a page, but it took more like an hour to fill a quarter of the page because of how carefully I was trying to color in between the lines. So, it’s a good time sink for sure.

By the way, I already started my 30-day challenge to read, but I think I’m going to add coloring to the challenge as well. Reading is more challenging that coloring, because you’re processing the words in your head and trying to make sense of the text. But with coloring, you’re focusing on just moving and watching I guess. It’s pretty mindless. My real challenge will be to focus on reading 20 pages without fail each day. Coloring will be my reward in a sense.