Personally, I think the ultimate reason to pick up your crayons (or pencils, or markers) and start coloring is that it’s just so much fun! Turns out, though, that coloring is really good at inducing the sort of relaxation that provides a whole host of benefits. In fact, some say that coloring can be a fun and easy alternative to meditation. (Spoiler Alert: Watch for our forthcoming coloring journals – be sure to sign up for the mailing list to be notified!)
So, if you’re catching heat for buying that 22nd coloring book to add to your collection, you can smugly tell your critic that Science says it’s good for you. (Or not-so-smugly, if you are a better person than I am.)
1. Coloring reduces anxiety.
A primary issue for those in recovery is an inability to find peace without the use of alcohol or other substances. A recent University of New England study showed that even a brief period of art-making can significantly reduce a person’s state of anxiety. Coloring takes your attention away from anxious thoughts and focuses it on the creative task at hand.
2. By nature, coloring is an act of presence.
It offers an opportunity to pause, to sit quietly with yourself and zone in rather than zone out, and to gently work through your feelings in a nonthreatening environment. Like meditation and yoga, coloring is a quiet, self-affirming activity, one that has the advantage of being less demanding than other mindfulness practices, without being passive.
3. Coloring increases your ability to focus.
Attempting to color in the lines (or consciously coloring outside them) focuses the brain in a way that isn’t stressful. It not only allows you to let go of everyday worries for a short time but refocuses that energy on a tangible, creative task.
4. Coloring makes you a better thinker.
This is important for everyone but especially for people in recovery, who are learning new tools and techniques to deal with hardships and stress. In working with the detailed drawings of adult coloring books and considering color palettes that are aesthetically pleasing, you activate the parts of your mind responsible for organization and problem-solving.
5. Coloring awakens the child in you.
By indulging in an activity we associate with childhood, we are able to explore a more creative and playful side of ourselves. This is especially beneficial for people who grew up in chaotic, possibly alcoholic homes and who may have missed out on the simple creative pleasures of childhood, like coloring.
6. Coloring fosters a creative life.
So many of us long to be more creative. Our lives are demanding. There are people to care for, jobs to do, bills to pay, our health to attend to (especially for those of us in recovery, whether from addiction, illness, or injury). All the while, inside us, there is often a creative itch we can’t seem to scratch.
Adult coloring books are easy. You don’t have to take a class, buy expensive supplies, or create a separate workspace. A coffee table, a coloring book, and some colored pencils are all it takes to get the creativity ball rolling.
7. Coloring expands your creative mind.
Because it’s so easy to get started, it’s a perfect way to begin exploring your creativity. Having a regular creative outlet is even more important for people in recovery, who, once free of addictive substances, often experience a tremendous void. A new hobby like coloring can help fill the void in a healthy way and spark interest in other artistic endeavors.
8. Coloring is an act of self-love.
Every time we take time for ourselves, every time we devote energy to enjoying our own unique, frustrating, wonderful, maddening lives, we expand our capacity for joy. In a society where negative self-talk, shame, and harsh self-judgment seem all too commonplace, coloring allows us to take a step back, breathe, and for a little while, lovingly tend to the ongoing business of healing and nurturing ourselves.
You can find Judy’s article and much more over at mindbodygreen.com. http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-24373/science-backed-reasons-to-add-coloring-to-your-self-care-practice.html