Do you remember the excitement of opening a new box of Crayola crayons as a child? For me, there was something just so wonderful about a new box of sharp crayons and that wonderful smell. Just smelling crayons today transports me back to my childhood! I’m sure you have noticed that adult coloring has become all the rage lately. Why? There are actually a lot of reasons coloring is good for you and why you may consciously or subconsciously find it so rewarding. Read on to learn more!
Coloring draws your attention away from yourself and your worries or repetitive thoughts and into the present moment. Many yogis, meditation experts, and other professionals are now suggesting coloring as an alternative to meditation because of the mindfulness it generates. For maximum benefits, try to really focus on coloring mindfully. Get rid of any distractions. Notice how the pencil feels in your hand. What does it smell like? How would you describe the color you are using?
When you focus on a simple activity, your brain will usually relax. Coloring can be especially beneficial for those who aren’t comfortable with more creatively expressive forms of art. People who tend to be more guarded often find great tranquility in coloring.
Coloring helps address lack of structure, boredom, and stress. These are the biggest triggers for those dealing with OCD, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, stress disorders, substance abuse, and anger management issues. By coloring, these individuals may find a healthy and productive way to focus away from negative thought patterns. Coloring can help people dealing with stress, anxiety, and PTSD by calming down their amygdala. The amygdala is what turns on your fight-or-flight response. Coloring turns down this response and helps your brain relax. One study found that those coloring mandalas (circular, geometric designs) had a significant decrease in anxiety. Just doodling doesn’t offer the same benefits.
If you enjoyed coloring as a child, chances are you will enjoy it as an adult! Children color for the pure joy of it. By tapping into that feeling, you can bring joy into your life when you color. It is also a time of worry-free activity.
Coloring activates both hemispheres of the brain. Your mind has to think about balance, color choices, and fine motor skills. It actually improves problem solving and organizational skills, not to mention focus and concentration. Coloring can even free up your mind to think more creatively – you may find unexpected ideas or solutions popping up!
As mentioned earlier, coloring may transport you back to your childhood. But did you know it may actually help keep you young? It not only keeps your mind active, but it increases manual dexterity, which is often lost as people age. So you’ll not only feel younger mentally, but also physically!
You can find adult coloring books almost anywhere. I’ve even seen them at Walmart! Amazon is a great source. You can even do an image search for adult coloring and all kinds of pages you can print out pop up. I even have a coloring/art journaling Bible that I love. For adults, coloring with pencils rather than crayons seems to be best since you can be more precise and do more intricate designs. Crayola even has tutorials about how to add shading and other techniques to your coloring. If you don’t want to color alone, there are groups who get together to color at libraries and other locations. So get to coloring and let me know how you enjoyed it, or post a picture of the completed project!
I am a Duke Integrative Medicine trained Health Coach located in Charlotte, NC. I hold a B.S. and M.A. in Wellness Management. I have a passion for health and for helping others achieve the healthy life they desire.