As adults we have long since put down our crayons and coloring pencils in exchange for ink pens and highlighters, considering the pastime of coloring as being exclusively confined to childhood. Well, not anymore!
Coloring for grown-ups has emerged recently as a new trend that is not only fun, but helps to relieve stress, generate a sense of quiet and stillness, and stimulates the areas of the brain associated with motor skills, and creativity. This coloring trend has taken off all across Europe and the United States, with publishers coming out with coloring books that are specifically aimed at and designed for adults.
The concept of coloring for our health is nothing new. Psychiatrist Carl Jung, the founder of analytical psychology, assigned coloring to his patients to calm and center their minds.
According to psychologists, when we color, we activate different areas of our brain. The fact that coloring is a structured pastime, it activates the logic part of the brain, and generates a creative mindset. The act of matching and blending colors stimulates the cerebral cortex which is involved in vision as well as fine motor skills.
The relaxing effect of coloring works to lower the activity of the amygdala, the area of our brain associated with controlling our emotions. The amygdala plays an important role in our ‘fight-or-flight’ response to life's stressors, so when we color, we are eased into a more restful, relaxed state. Moreover, the act of coloring also helps in relieving stress due to the simple fact that while we are focused on coloring, we are not focused on our worries. Structured coloring (as opposed to free-form doodling or sketching) has actually been proven to decrease anxiety for those very reasons.
Grown-up Coloring Books
Coloring is one of the few activities that occupies us both physically and mentally, and is entirely self-contained. The adult coloring books we are seeing now in book shops and online are great for redirecting nervous energy into a creative endeavor, and creates opportunities for relaxation and encouraging mindfulness.
Adult coloring books are characterized by beautifully intricate shapes and designs that stimulate the imagination, drawing us into a fantasy world of underwater seascapes and enchanted forests, or more abstract undertakings such as kaleidoscopic mandalas. Coloring these books can be challenging, requiring advanced motor skills and a modicum of finesse to make the pictures really come alive!
You may think that coloring is tedious and consider it an hour ill spent. If, on the off chance that you deem that coloring just isn't for you, think again! Take a moment to remember how coloring allows frazzled, over-worked adults to feel like a kid again — at least for a little while!