7 Benefits of Coloring For Adults and Why You Should Join The Adult Coloring Craze
Every major news outlet from CNN to CBS News is reporting about the adult coloring phenomenon. What once was an activity that kept so many of us entertained as children, is now resurfacing as a trend adults are coming to love. Therapeutic elements parents sought to keep their children calm or entertained before dinner, are now being applied to adults, to help distract them from the daily pressures of life.
That said, here are the top 7 benefits of coloring for adults:
- Your brain experiences relief by entering a meditative state
- Stress and anxiety levels have the potential to be lowered
- Negative thoughts are expelled as you take in positivity
- Focusing on the present helps you achieve mindfulness
- Unplugging from technology promotes creation over consumption
- Coloring can be done by anyone, not just artists or creative types
- It’s a hobby that can be taken with you wherever you go
WHAT MAKES ADULT COLORING BOOKS SO SPECIAL?
Coloring books intended for adults are not the average book you would buy your child. They feature a higher quality of paper, intricate designs, and a wider selection of themes. Whether you’re a big fan of Doctor Who, Harry Potter, cities, swear words, flowers, animals, or mandalas, we guarantee there is a coloring book for you.
ART THERAPISTS RESPOND TO ADULT COLORING BEING TOUTED AS ART THERAPY
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.
The American Art Therapy Association defines art therapy as “a mental health profession in which clients, facilitated by the art therapist, use art media, the creative process, and the resulting artwork to explore their feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem.”
As you can see, 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. Susan Gordon, Licensed Master's Social Worker and manager of Piedmont Sixty Plus, tells Piedmont Healthcare "coloring books can be a complement to art therapy, but they aren't a replacement."
The Guardian spoke with Drena Fagen, an art therapist and an adjunct instructor at New York University’s Steinhardt School, who is not averse to using adult coloring books in her therapy sessions, however, makes it clear that coloring is not art therapy. “I don’t consider the coloring books as art therapy; I consider the coloring books therapeutic, which is not the same thing,” she told The Guardian.
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.
CAN COLORING REALLY REPLICATE THE EFFECTS OF MEDITATION?
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. Don’t take our word for it. Here are some helpful views presented by experts.
Medical Daily shared an article in which “Dr. Stan Rodski, a neuropsychologist who also has his own line of adult coloring books, says that coloring elicits a relaxing mindset, similar to what you would achieve through meditation.” The neuropsychologist further mentions that “like meditation, coloring allows us to switch off our brains from other thoughts and focus on the moment. Tasks with predictable results, such as coloring or knitting, can often be calming.”
It may be hard to believe Dr. Rodski since he owns his own line of adult coloring books, however, he didn’t base his findings off of assumptions. Instead, he used advanced technology to see what actually happens to our bodies when we color.
Dr. Rodski tells the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, “the most amazing things occurred — we started seeing changes in heart rate, changes in brainwaves.” He also mentions “there are three key elements—repetition, pattern, and detail—that prompt positive neurological responses in participants. When you have things that you can predict will happen in a certain way, it's calming for us.”
A STUDY REVEALS COLORING MANDALAS OR GEOMETRIC PATTERNS HELPS WITH STRESS AND ANXIETY
You see it everywhere, on Facebook, in Amazon reviews, news stories, you name it — coloring book companies and customers protesting that coloring help reduce stress and anxiety levels. At first glance, this may seem like a cheap gimmick to take advantage of unsuspecting coloring enthusiasts.
Much to our disbelief, a study published in the Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association 22(2) pp. 81-85 provides support that coloring mandalas or geometric patterns actually does help lower stress and anxiety levels. Nancy A. Curry, BA, completed this project while pursuing an undergraduate degree at Knox College with then associate professor, Tim Kasser, Ph.D., who is now the Professor and Chair of Psychology at Knox College.