The adult coloring craze began in 2012 when color books designed for adults first got published. Their popularity has only grown. You can find them online, in big-box stores, and at your local grocery store checkout. Chances are you’ve seen them and know someone who colors for a hobby.
People color to destress, relax, and for enjoyment. Coloring activities engage and focus the central cortex of the brain. They also soothe the Amygdala part of the brain that keeps us ready to respond to stress.
Cleveland Clinic psychologist Scott Bea says that the simple act of coloring works at lowering stress because it requires outward attention, focus, and it’s safe to do.
When we color, our attention gets directed toward the task at hand, away from our inner dialog and struggle.
With a sort of sleight-of-hand, focusing our thoughts on a simple, enjoyable activity helps us distract and soothe our busy brains.
Finally, anyone can color, even people who don’t feel like they have a creative bone in their bodies can do it. With coloring, the outcome is predictable, and the creative risk is low. That makes coloring a safe, creative outlet.
Just like working out at the gym helps your body, exercising your brain by coloring boosts creativity.
Dr. Nicola Holt of The University of West England, along with fellow researchers, studied undergraduate students whom they engaged in coloring and reading activities, as well as psychological testing. They found that participants who colored for 20 minutes were not only relaxed, they also showed more creative thinking and had better visual attention.
When you exercise your whole brain, you’re bound to reap some intellectual benefits. The more you focus and concentrate, the better you get at it. Increasing focus and creativity makes us better thinkers, innovators, and problem solvers.
In some ways, coloring mimics mindfulness by directing our attention to the present and keeping it there for a time. Mindfulness practices soothe the Amygdala the same way coloring does, so people who engage in those practices reap similar benefits.
Since coloring is so relaxing, a lot of people color before going to bed. Coloring for an hour before bed is also an excellent way to unplug from technology, which also improves sleep. Coloring in a quiet space is a great way to relax and prepare your brain for a good night’s rest.
Many adults who color feel a sweet nostalgia from coloring. They remember happy times when they colored as children. Coloring takes them back to a time when life was less complicated, when they felt safe and loved.
While coloring is not a substitute for any form of therapy, it can certainly augment it. Quieting the mind can have a positive impact on those who suffer from anxiety and stress disorders.
Dr. Joel Pearson (a neuroscientist from The University of New South Wales, Australia) believes that coloring may help replace negative mental images with positive ones. [To color], “You have to look at shape and size, you have to look at edges, and you have to pick a color. It should occupy the same parts of the brain that stops anxiety-related mental imagery as well.”
As we get older, some of our abilities diminish. That includes our fine-motor skills. Coloring can help us keep our dexterity. It can also help us feel more content.
So what are you waiting for?
Break out your markers, colored pencils, or acrylic paints and find your chill with a Color Me Chilled coloring book or ready-to-paint canvas!
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