Paper brings its own magic to today’s increasingly stressed society. Business Optimizer takes a look at the different ways paper is used in relaxation techniques and to beat stress.
It seems unlikely that this humble product can help to reduce the everyday stress of our working lives, but studies repeatedly show that using paper can be good for us.
It is a trend that is said to have reinvigorated the publishing industry. Adult coloring books connected with people in a really unexpected way – offering a chance to escape the pressures of the daily grind and relax in a way that didn’t rely on technology.
Commercial artist Johanna Basford, who has several best-selling coloring books to her name, says, “I think coloring appeals to adults for three reasons. Firstly, it’s a great way to de-stress. That notion of being ‘in flow’ and completely absorbed in a task – particularly an analog task that doesn’t involve a screen – is just so soothing… This is how I feel when I’m drawing, blissfully submerged!
Secondly, I think everyone has a creative spark, they just need the opportunity and encouragement to allow it to flourish. An empty sheet of paper can be daunting, but a coloring book offers a gentle buffer to those with blank canvas anxiety! And finally, there’s the nostalgia factor…
Coloring gives hardworking grownups the opportunity to play and to indulge themselves in an activity which likely reminds them of more carefree days.”
Doodling is another paper-based activity that can help you to relax. Author Sunni Brown has suggested that doodling is “deep thinking in disguise” and a simple, accessible tool for problem-solving.
Research bears her out. A 2010 experiment in which participants were asked to listen to a recorded message about party attendees, with one half of the group asked to doodle while listening and the other asked simply to listen, followed by a surprise memory test found that the doodlers performed almost 30 percent better in terms of memory retention.
In Psychology Today, Cathy Malchiodi says, “The wonderful thing about doodling it is a full brain activity – spontaneous, at times unconscious, self-soothing, satisfying, exploratory, memory-enhancing and mindful.”
The Japanese art of paper folding is another full-brain activity that encourages mindfulness and helps to reduce feelings of stress. In a blog on paper therapy, Kami Paper makes the point, “When you are making your Origami, your mind is not able to focus on anything else besides the paper in your hands.
Each fold, each crease, must be perfectly aligned in order to craft the beautiful creation. It is this deep level of concentration that allows particular areas of our brains to produce different endorphins that enable us to breathe and relax.”
Keeping a diary can be another good way to reduce stress – proving a creative outlet and offering an opportunity to reflect about the day’s events. The cathartic experience of putting a pen to paper has given rise to the discipline of writing therapy. A therapeutic way to address traumatic events under the guidance of a professional therapist.
This way of dealing with stress can be applied to our everyday lives too. Keeping a journal or diary is a good way to analyze the days’ events and feelings, helping you to put things into perspective, gain important new insights about yourself and your environment, and move on from negative thinking.
It’s a simple and low-cost form of therapy too; all you need is a pen and paper. The important thing to remember is to write as though no one else will read what you have written – ensuring an authentic perspective on the day’s events will offer the most possibility for new insights and maximum benefit.
You should, in the words of William Wordsworth, “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”
These four techniques illustrate clearly the benefits of taking an analog approach to relaxation – and why switching off your devices and picking up a notebook and pen might be better for you.