Colouring books are no longer just for kids. What once was an activity that kept so many of us entertained as children, has resurfaced as a trend adults are coming to love. In fact, adult colouring books have become immensely popular since 2012, becoming a full-on trend with everyone from researchers at Johns Hopkins University to the editors of Yoga Journal suggesting coloring has therapeutic potential to reduce anxiety, create focus or bring about more mindfulness. Like meditation, coloring allows the brain to switch off other thoughts and focus coloring as an alternative to meditation. Coloring books intended for adults are not the average book one would buy for their child. They feature a higher quality of paper, intricate designs, and a wider selection of themes.
As with any major trend, there are critics. While some therapists have come out strongly against adult coloring being referred to as a form of therapy, there are others who welcome the growing trend. The main difference that all art therapists seem to agree on is that there is a stark contrast between the benefits of coloring for adults and the art therapy profession. One of the major issues of associating adult coloring with art therapy is that there is no interaction between an art therapist and patient, who facilitates the patient’s growth. Coloring books can be a complement to art therapy, but they aren’t a replacement. These sentiments uncover an important distinction and promote a healthy dialogue between the art therapy and scientific communities. Despite the strong response from some in the art therapy community, we cannot discount scientific findings that back the therapeutic benefits of adult coloring.
There are claims by many that coloring is a form of meditation. When you meditate, your brain enters a relaxed state by focusing on the present and blocking out the nonstop thinking we all experience. As a result, you reach a state of calm that relieves your brain from the daily stresses of life. A study published in the Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association provides support that coloring mandalas or geometric patterns lowers activity in the amygdala, which is responsible for our fight-or-flight stress response, and thus, actually helps lower stress and anxiety levels.
Adult coloring books can help with a number of emotional and mental health issues. For many, boredom, lack of structure, and stress are the greatest triggers they have. This applies to individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorders, anxiety disorders, stress disorders, depressive disorders, eating and binge eating disorders, anger management issues, and substance abuse issues. The time and focus that adult coloring takes helps the individual remove the focus from the negative issues and habits, and focus them in a safe and productive way.
Colouring is a nostalgic activity. So concentrating on coloring an image may facilitate the replacement of negative thoughts and images with pleasant ones. Aadult coloring requires one to focus attention outside of oneself. In the same way, cutting the lawn, knitting, or taking a Sunday drive can all be relaxing. In addition to this, most colorists have expressed seeing a finished product as one of the reasons they love coloring. This instant gratification one feels elicits more happy feelings.
Adult coloring books clearly help serve many purposes that are beneficial. The act of coloring requires repetition and attention to detail, so you are able to focus on the activity, rather than your worries. Coloring can be done by anyone, not just artists. It’s a hobby that can be taken with you wherever you go!