Bring back the life in you

By Iqra Sarfaraz
Tue, 02, 19

This week You! motivates its readers to indulge themselves in a number of therapeutic activities in order to promote their social, physical and emotional well-being...

An individual’s well-being is important, but can be elusive in modern times. This week You! motivates its readers to indulge themselves in a number of therapeutic activities in order to promote their social, physical and emotional well-being...

Adult colouring books

Forget about the notion that colouring books are for kids. In a busy world, increasingly dominated by time spent in front of screens, grownups are turning to the soothing art of colouring in. But the books we’re talking about are not reminiscent of the freebie colouring sheets handed out at schools that we remember from our childhoods. These are intricately designed books; some created specifically to help you de-stress and focus the mind.

But does it work? Can we really find relief in colouring carefully in between the lines? Azmeena Alidina, the name behind one of Pakistan’s unique adult colouring books, ‘Phuljhari’, thinks so. “Phuljhari is a stress-relieving colouring book by Ema Anis and I. Our book is not just a colouring book; it serves multiple purposes. We wanted to celebrate our unique, beautiful and vibrant local art, which is seemingly all around us but we fail to notice it. And by providing adults in the form of colouring line-arts, we are also giving them a stress-relieving activity. Our book even has a game of colour-it-yourself saanp seerhi, a travel map, stamps and doodling pages,” shares Azmeena.

“One might find colouring as the most therapeutic activity. With so much happening, we, adults, need to vent out - stress relief isn’t optional anymore, it’s a necessity. And a lot of people are now beginning to understand that as well. The response has been amazing! It was absolutely overwhelming when a friend called me and told me her mother had depression and the book really helped her cope. She even finished colouring the entire book in a month!” she adds.

Azmeena Alidina is the co-owner and illustrator of Phuljhari - A desi adult colouring book. Having done her Bachelors in Mass Communication currently, she works as a social media strategist.

Ironically, life has become busy for everyone but we are not-too-busy when it comes to posting a status on social media or, to chit-chat in a WhatsApp group. Precisely, we have all the time for virtual reality but we often don’t know what is going around in our real life. With this, our brain has become too occupied that stress takes its toll on us and brings our energy levels down. Gone are the days when people used to acquire physical activities after a tiring day at work but now mobile phones have taken that place and we have become almost handicap today.

Keeping this in mind, recently much attention has been given to therapeutic activities in order to release stress by improving cognitive behaviours. This is due to the fact that cognitive behaviours involve conscious intellectual activity that can be increased with arts and crafts.

 For this purpose, this week You! motivates its readers to indulge themselves in a number of therapeutic activities in order to promote their social, physical and emotional well-being...

Philosophy or a kind of therapy?

Design Therapy is a series where colour and coaching go hand in hand. Often interior designers are of the view that room makeovers extend beyond the walls and into the psyche of each individual.

Similarly, the philosophies and concepts of holistic feng shui design incorporate holistic therapies with feng shui principles.

Feng shui is the art and science of arranging objects and things in a space that allows you to harness positive currents of energy in a manner that will be beneficial to you.

Beena Asim has been into designing furniture since many years but she officially launched herlabel ‘Beena Asim Furniture-Interiors-Lifestyle’ some 10 years ago.

So, designers often have an innovative approach that takes a deeper look at the ‘why’ behind the colours, styles and furniture in each makeover.

As both a designer and design psychologist, Beena Asim elucidates, “It’s called healing by design. If spaces are good (e.g. what kind of sunlight it has, colours of walls etc) it becomes therapeutic.

For instance, a kids’ ward in a hospital has to be designed keeping kids in mind. This helps in their healing whenever they look at it. If the environment is dull and boring it will have the same effect on the one who is in that environment.”

Art as a stress reliever

While art therapy is its own field, you can use the benefits of art to express your creative side and drawing skills to reduce stress and get in touch with your feelings. Gul-e-Zehra Haider is a Karachi-based artist who loves to paint and create art. She shares, “When I was going through depression, a friend of mine recommended colouring to me. I started with adult colouring books which led me to painting objects and landscapes. Everyone has their own way to relieve stress, be it retail therapy or something else, but for me, I found peace in paintings.” According to Zehra, art has helped her in coping with her feelings and finding an escape when she needed it the most.

Gul-e-Zehra is an Instagram artist, who posts her work on social media as @gullaey. She makes trendy art to engage her followers.

Culinary art & its ways to de-stress

We often associate alleviating stress with indulging unhealthy vices, like binge watching TV for hours, stress eating, even smoking a cigarette. The trouble is, after one of those activities, you are rarely left feeling better – in fact, you usually feel worse, leading to added stress.

But what if one of the best stress relief activities is actually something good for you and your wallet and it’s fun? Yes, you guessed it, it’s cooking.

Kausar Ahmed is founder and CEO of ‘Kitchen Crafts’. She also owns a food website by the name of ‘Happy Belly World’.

If you think of cooking as a chore, it’s time to give it a fresh look. There are more reasons to cook at home! Why does it work so well? Turns out that cooking satisfies us in a few essential ways – cooking expert, Kausar Ahmed, says it all. “Cooking is known to be the ultimate stress reliever. It is an activity which requires your whole attention, excels creativity, fulfils a sense of achievement and is a way to express emotions through a different medium, leading to a more relaxed mind and emotions. Cooking is known to be meditative and can have a calming effect after a day full of stress and exhaustion, depression or low self esteem. The process of cooking or baking, for example, peeling, chopping, weighing out butter and sugar, whisking eggs, beating and folding clears up the thought process, and eases negative thinking, channelling the mind towards positivity and calmness,” explains Kausar.

Therapeutic gardening

The term therapeutic gardening means that the activity of gardening is designed to assure positive health outcomes and minimise negative outcomes. It is a great activity to help maintain physical and emotional well-being. With a little creativity, gardening can be an accessible activity and can have therapeutic value. As a therapy, it is unique in a way that a living medium, plants, are used. This allows the gardener to be anchored in reality. When gardeners realise that they have an effect on something else that is living, there are often positive changes in their behaviour and feelings. Renowned horticulturist, Tofiq Pasha Mooraj, is of the same view. 

Tofiq Pasha Mooraj is commonly recognised for his television shows ‘Bagh Baani’, ‘Kitchen Garden’ & ‘Go Camping with Pasha’. Despite all that he has done for Mother Nature, he has personally never called himself ‘an environmentalist’.

“Gardening is probably one of the most relaxing activities/hobbies that one can have –whilst also keeping you physically fit. Plus, being in an outdoor space where you are exposed to the nature and environment has its own benefits. Because of this useful activity, you get fresh air and oxygen coming from the plants and trees and, with all the other life around in a garden whether it is butterflies or bees, insects or flowers, all end up taking you to a frame of mind that is peaceful and relaxing. Once you are in peace, you get to unload your stress as well,” says Tofiq.

“Moreover, when one does gardening, there is always a result. You grow a plant which gives fruits and flowers. So there is a massive reward at the end of it and I think that there is a great thrill of the reward and to see one’s efforts come to fruit and even if it’s an ordinary plant which has a great value. Gardening gives you a good feeling that again is very pleasant to the brain. It always gives you positivity and a sense of fulfilment,” he expresses.