How Adults Benefit From Coloring Between The Lines
Go into any Arts and Crafts store or bookstore these days and you will see a gaggle of shoppers surrounding the adult coloring books display. Economists note that the adult coloring book market has grown exponentially in the past 10 years. Anyone who has ventured into this hobby intuitively understands why this is so.
I personally discovered adult coloring books over thirty years ago before I owned a computer. I started with Mandala coloring books and was immediately hooked. After my mother died I found coloring in Mandalas to be both deeply healing and inspiring! I was eventually inspired to create my own versions of mandalas to color in, and slowly gained the confidence to start painting again in oils, a passion that I had given up as a young adult to pursue a career as a Psychologist. I had always used coloring books as well as 'Anti-Coloring' books with my child client's as a Clinical Psychologist, but after I fell in love with adult coloring books I started recommending them to my adult client's as well!
I learned that many of my traumatized adult clients grew to rely on these adult coloring books to find a safe way to calm their nerves. I eventually discovered that many of these clients used coloring books as a springboard to engage in other more challenging creative hobbies. It appears that I was not alone in noticing this trend. In fact, most other psychologists seem to agree that simple coloring is an excellent way to get adult's creative juices flowing! This is because the confidence gained by coloring can encourage us to try more challenging creative tasks in the future.
Coloring books can be particularly helpful for adults with histories of trauma. One reason for this might be that as children they found coloring to be a pleasant way to turn inwards and relax. For some of them, it may have been an activity that helped them to temporarily escape from unpleasant or traumatic home lives. Therefore, the act of coloring can be associated with safety, emotional containment and pleasure at the same time.
However, anxiety reduction is not the only way that these coloring books can help adults. Working on an enjoyable project with clearly defined parameters also helps adults to practice focusing their attention and working step by step to achieve a long term goal. This is particularly helpful for adults who feel stressed and overwhelmed and have difficulty getting things done in an efficient manner. It is particularly helpful that many of these designs can be completed in less than an hour and, therefore, provide a quick yet extremely pleasing result!
There is a great deal of research that shows that our brains respond to different colors in characteristic ways and that we tend to choose colors when drawing or even dressing that help to regulate our emotions and bring us pleasure. Merely using colors to express ourselves helps us to feel good. There is also growing evidence that suggests that heart rate and EEG readings can be regulated by any activity that simultaneously uses both sides of the brain, and this certainly applied to using adult coloring books! In summary, there are a number of ways that adults can benefit from using coloring books to improve both their mental health and sense of well-being. Try it if you get a chance and see what you think! Steevie Jane Parks, Ph.D. Licensed Clinical Psychologist - www.drsjparks.com Creativity Coach - www.creatingwithoutfear.com Artist - www.steevijane.gallery