Don’t judge me, I’m coloring a brighter tomorrow. 

Everywhere you go today, you’ll find hints of the latest craze in mindfulness, adult coloring books.  From mandalas to cuss word coloring books, there’s something for everyone.

Like many adults, my fondness for coloring started when I was a child.  At that time, my aunts and an uncle would join me on the floor, coloring whatever farm animal or clown I picked out for them.

As I grew older, my love of coloring never left me.  When I babysat as a teenager, it was a great excuse to entertain kids and do something I loved, as well.  Just like Barbara Mandrell, I’m fond of saying, “I was coloring, when coloring wasn’t cool.”  First, with traditional kids’ crayons, then graduating to the more grown-up tool, colored pencils.

Imagine my delight when, all of a sudden, adult coloring books started flooding grocery store magazine racks and word of its mental health benefits came to light.

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Psychologist Carl Jung was way before his time, prescribing coloring to his patients in the early 1900s.  Psychoanalysis has revealed the act of coloring engages both hemispheres of the brain and relaxes the amygdala, which is responsible for the flight or fight response.

In today’s high-stress, fast-paced world, coloring allows adults to slow down and concentrate on a soothing activity that doesn’t have life-altering consequences.  Coloring induces effects similar to meditation, which for high-anxiety individuals is not always an easy task.

Other benefits of coloring include focusing on the present, unplugging from technology, and it’s a relaxing hobby that is easily transportable.

Art therapy is really a thing

Although talking is still the most common mode of therapy or counseling, expressive therapies, like coloring, considers the different ways that people express themselves.

“The expressive therapies are defined in this text as the use of art, music, dance/movement, drama, poetry/creative writing, play, and sand-tray within the context of psychotherapy, counseling, rehabilitation, or health care.” – Expressive Therapies, as defined by Psychology Today.

Examples of the healing powers of art can be found clear back to ancient Egypt, when people suffering from mental illness were encouraged to engage in artistic activities.  With advances in psychiatry, expressive therapies also gained traction.

The term “art therapy” was formally coined in 1942 by British artist Adrian Hill.  At roughly the same time, American psychologist Margaret Naumberg began publishing a clinical case on what she referred to as “dynamically oriented art therapy.” 

In the practice of art therapy, the process of creating a piece of art is often more valuable that the product.  Once I’ve finished coloring a page, I place it in the bottom of the drawer where I keep my coloring supplies.

It’s important to note that coloring itself is no substitute for a trained therapist or counselor, but it can certainly a great place to start for many folks.

Color-by-number

Traditional adult coloring books allow the average person with no artistic training or skill to express their creativity and unwind in the process.  However, for some people, choosing a color can cause additional anxiety all on its own.  That’s when the color-by-number option could be the answer.

Color-by-number books, like its cousin paint-by-number, are usually sold as kits, and assigns each number a color.  Just pick up a numbered color, find the number on your page, and fill in the space.  It really is a no-brainer.  All you have to do is stay in the lines and the end result is perfectly artistic–no decisions necessary.

Recently, I’ve dipped my toe into the paint-by-number pool to see if my love of coloring would transfer.  I was initially skeptical, because, although I consider myself a crafty person, paint is not in my crafty wheelhouse.

Now that I’ve tried it, I can say with certainty that paint-by-number is just as relaxing for me as coloring.  And, with the wide variety of designs to choose from, your finished canvas will be a piece of artwork you created, worthy of hanging in your home.

Closet adult colorers, rejoice!  There’s no need to hide your childhood love any longer.  Pick up a book of mandalas, vining flowers, or geometric shapes from the grocery aisle or craft store and color proudly.

By: Charity D. Stewart  for 82717

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