Color Me Calm

Using Adult Coloring Books as a Relaxation Technique

Have you ever watched children color in their favorite coloring books? They pick out colors, one at a time, marking the page, tracing lines, slowly filling in the picture, bringing it to life. They’re often so peaceful and at ease. Why can’t adults have that too?

It turns out, they can, and they should! Adult coloring books are rising in popularity as stressed out folks find peace of mind inside the lines. The slow, deliberate coloring of shapes and pictures involves both logic and creativity, which in turn induces relaxation by repressing the activity of the amygdala, a part of the brain that controls stress-related emotions. Taking time to unwind creatively has the potential to reduce stress by channeling it into the colors on a page.

The trend of adult coloring books has taken off, especially in the United Kingdom and France, where the books are bestsellers. The movement is also making its way across the pond, as more and more coloring books are creeping their way up bestsellers lists. The books range from the elaborate Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book by Johanna Basford to the whimsical The Mindfulness Coloring Book: Anti-Stress Art Therapy for Busy People by Emma Farrarons, to the chance to color celebrities in illustrator Mel Simone Elliot’s books, Colour Me Good.

Art therapy has often taken the form of crafts, music, or free-form drawing, but there’s something to be said to coloring inside the lines. Simply speaking, the act of concentrating on coloring a design greatly reduces your focus on anything worrisome. Just think: as a kid, were you ever worried about anything while you colored? Of course not! Especially in this digital age, it’s helpful to take your eyes off the screen and zone out into a beautiful lined canvas of a garden, a country scene, or even a whimsical cat, just waiting to be splashed with color. And who doesn’t love to color?

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