A few weeks ago I posted about some simple ways to deal with stress and panic attacks, and I mentioned that I had received an adult coloring book from a friend and thought it was a great way to focus and relax my mind.
Bottom line on top: Adult coloring books are inexpensive yet effective tools for mental relaxation.
Apparently other people think so, too!
I just read this article in The Atlantic: The Zen of Adult Coloring Books
Several trend pieces about adult coloring books lump them in with other “childish” activities that grown-ups are apparently engaging in to regress back to their simpler youth, like adult preschool and adult summer camp. But I think they fit better into the trend of meditation and mindfulness that’s been going for some time now, one response among many to the high levels of stress many adults are living with.
There are plenty of studies on the effectiveness of art therapy in reducing stress, and coloring seems to offer some similar benefits, as William Brennan wrote in this magazine when he noted the coloring books’ particular popularity in France. And doodling is a way for people to organize their thoughts, and focus.
Coloring offers that relief and mindfulness without the paralysis that a blank page can cause. This is the paradox of choice, and it’s been well-studied—too many options is overwhelming. But with coloring, you know what you’re working with. You just choose how to fill it in.
And here’s where the patterns are important… because I think there’s a comfort in the concentration detail demands.
I’ve thanked my friend several times for this thoughtful and creative hostess gift.
Related post: How chronic stress affects your body
An adult coloring book is not something I would give to just anyone. But I have several friends who I think would appreciate one, and I have bought a few to give as Christmas, birthday or hostess gifts.
I’ve also given them to friends who are undergoing chemotherapy. Chemo is boring and saps your energy; coloring is not only low-energy, but engaging and helps pass time more quickly.
Adult coloring books and pencils: