Relax by Coloring

Take a quick look at the available options consumers now have among coloring books and you instantly will know that coloring is not strictly for kids. Besides character-themed books like those showcasing the latest animated characters, coloring books are filled with adult-appeal. Whether one prefers intricate geometric patterns, flora and fauna, current political leaders, or even the characters their own kids adore, adults can now find a coloring book suited to their tastes and abilities. This ever-growing library of coloring books is great news for adults and kids alike because coloring may bring more benefits than just being able to pass the time.

Coloring may actually reduce stress in both children and adults. It is an old-fashioned activity that encourages the brain to focus. When this happens, one’s problems and fears about life can seem to disappear for a time. Since most people learned to be proficient at coloring by age five or six, little thought must be invested into the skill it takes to color. Young children are still learning to be coordinated and to color with control and precision. Youngsters who scribble understandably do so because their fingers and wrists are learning to become more dexterous and flexible. Most adults already have these fine motor skills, so it can be easier for them to let the act of coloring completely absorb them. Clinical psychologist Scott M. Bea, Psy.D., of the Cleveland Clinic compares coloring to other activities that help adults refocus their attention: Sunday drives, mowing the lawn, knitting. Like these activities, coloring captivates one’s attention. When an adult or a child colors, the mind focuses on being in the moment. According to Dr. Bea, both the mind and body are able to relax because the activity is so simple to do.

After only a few minutes of coloring, many people report noticing signs of relaxation in their bodies. When coloring, a person tends to breathe more slowly. Heart rate also decreases. As the body’s muscles loosen, the brain tightens its focus on the images being colored. Coloring can, in fact, be a useful tool in practicing mindfulness. Dr. Sheila Jowsey of the Mayo Clinic sites mindfulness stress reduction as a way that a person can help the body overcome problems brought on by stress such as body aches, fatigue, and even sleeping problems. Additionally, being mindful can help people in their struggles with anxiety and depression. Coloring helps a person become mindful. Coloring encourages the brain to unwind. By being the mind’s focus, coloring can push out the chattering stressors of our everyday lives. It’s no wonder why some people turn to coloring as a way to cope with stress and even illness.

An adult’s mind is boggled with a plethora of problems and anxieties. Adults have schedules to keep, bills to pay, and family time to spend. Unwinding from everyday life and finding ways to reduce tension is a necessary part of living healthily. These restless minds may find solace in crayons, colored pencils, and markers. Before one picture is even half done, the benefits from coloring could have already begun. This low-stakes activity can be like meditation to some. Filling up a page with color draws away attention from the self. Worries and troubles can seem to melt away. Unfortunately, not everyone will feel the benefits that come with coloring.

In order to benefit from coloring, a person must enjoy coloring. Chances are that if an individual detested coloring in his or her childhood, it is unlikely that coloring will be a pleasurable activity in that person’s adulthood. Those who think that their tastes may have changed over the past few decades, however, can see for themselves without spending an arm and a leg. Coloring books and coloring implements are readily available at a low cost. No fortune need be spent in trying this activity out again. Those with youngsters have another reason to do so too.

Adults with children or grandchildren can get even more out of coloring together. Coloring provides a bonding activity for adults and children. Coloring together can help strengthen an emotional bond between the young and old. It sets the stage for the child and adult to converse about the pictures, current events, or other topics of interest. Times like these may seem like a breath of fresh air in an age of electronics.

The next time you feel the need to de-stress, sharpen your crayons and colored pencils and pull out a new image to color. Take some time to meditate and relax as you color. Stay in the lines, or add new ones if your creative side urges you – you’re the adult!