I don’t know about you, but one of my most favorite things to do as a kid was to color, for hours and hours. Even as a teenager, I would sometimes sneak into my brother’s coloring book stash, or that of the kids I would babysit, just to be able to color again. Part of it was because I always wanted to be able to draw or paint or something like that, but part of it was just because it was really fun! Turns out, my sometimes hours-long coloring sessions were probably helping me cope with the pressures and stressors of high school.
Since the early 1900s, doctors, including Carl Jung, have prescribed coloring mandalas to some patients as a relaxation and stress-busting exercise. Coloring helps the brain to focus, thanks to it being a very structured activity. Because the brain is so focused on the coloring, other worries, stressors, and anxieties float away and the person coloring sinks into relaxation. Sometimes mindless activity is just the ticket in our go-go-go, results-oriented society.
I got a couple coloring books and markers from my husband for Christmas this year, and there has hardly been a day since that I haven’t done at least a little coloring. I will color while listening to a podcast, or when winding down for bed. This has both the benefit of decompressing from my day, as well as getting me off the computer to prepare my body for sleep.
I can really feel the relaxation take over a few minutes after I start coloring. Everything else really does melt away and I really focus on the coloring. I definitely think this has helped me unwind after busy or stressful days. I love the feeling of accomplishment when I finish a page, too! I will usually interrupt whatever my husband is doing, just to show him the page I finished with a big smile on my face. He’s a good sport and tells me how nice I did and that it looks really good. (Very much like a child looking for a parent’s approval! I guess we never get away from that.)
Something I particularly enjoy about my coloring books is that they are mine. I don’t have to compare my coloring books to anyone else’s, worry if they are good enough, or plan out my colors in advance to match what I think I should be doing. I just pick a page that calls to me at that particular time, pick up my markers, and color!
I have a couple of Johanna Basford coloring books, which I love and totally recommend. You can pick some up below!
Have you tried adult coloring yet? What do you think about it?