I was never a huge fan of coloring books as a child. As an adult, however, I absolutely love them! Maybe it’s because I’ve come a long way in my ability to stay inside the lines. Whatever the reason, I am glad to have made the shift. I am the proud owner of coloring books depicting Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and, of course, a magical garden. The stress relief that they provide is fantastic, and the sense of accomplishment after finishing a page may feel silly, but it is real! Thankfully, therapists around the world have given this practice a collective nod of approval.
1. People who suffer from trauma, PTSD, and excessive stress can benefit from coloring, as it is known to calm the amygdala. This is the part of the brain that, when activated, induces a fight-or-flight reaction. People with these conditions are often kept in a state of extreme worry and hyper-vigilance due to an overly active amygdala.
2. The decision to color is a decision to spend time on something that is just for us. As adults, we often neglect to do this until we face a crisis that reminds us of the importance of self-care. Coloring is a simple daily reminder that our happiness matters.
3. Coloring forces us to practice mindfulness, which can ease symptoms of anxiety and depression. The practice of mindfulness can also promote feelings of fulfillment and joy.
4. Both the right hemisphere and the left hemisphere of the brain are used in balance when we color. This is because we are completing a concrete task and using fine motor skills, while also thinking in an abstract way regarding the artful balance of pigments on the page.
5. Coloring uses the same areas of the brain that help us to focus and concentrate. By utilizing this part of the brain, we can increase our capacity for attentive thought.
6. Coloring also uses the area of the brain that is responsible for organizational and problem solving skills. By exercising it, we can significantly strengthen our adulting skills.
7. Does pulling out the colored pencils soothe your soul? It’s no wonder. Coloring can induce feelings of comfort and nostalgia in those who enjoyed this activity as a child.
8. Coloring injects our lives with a much needed dose of creativity. As adults, we are often tasked with the same acts of tedium over and over again. This can dampen our creative spirit, and decrease our capacity for creative problem solving. Coloring is a way to add a creative outlet that does not involve extra stress or a serious time commitment.
9. A coloring routine can combat boredom and a lack of structure, both of which are known to contribute to a myriad of mental health issues. These include depression, anxiety, stress, substance abuse, eating disorders, anger management problems, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
10. Coloring mandalas is thought to have spiritual benefits, increasing our capacity for self-knowledge and connecting us to humanity and our world.
Coloring has been compared to meditation for its ability to calm the mind and feed the soul. With so many options when it comes to coloring books, there is sure to be one that suits your tastes. Take up the practice yourself, or give one to your stress-addled sister to help her make it through finals week. They are a whimsical way to look back on the good times, as well as a practical tool with which to cope with the problems we face in the present.