Move over Sudoku—coloring books are the new mental workout craze, and they’re not just for kids anymore (adult coloring books are rapidly becoming more popular)! Since the release in 2013 of The Secret Garden by Johanna Basford (which became #1 on Amazon’s best-seller list), adult coloring books have become a growing global trend—and it’s not hard to see why. Clinical psychologists have found that there are numerous benefits of adult coloring for your brain (especially an exhausted and jaded adult brain) from picking up a crayon or colored pencil, experimenting with colors and neatly filling in the spaces—or not. Whether you’re looking for a low-key summer activity or want to take on a form of art therapy, here are some therapeutic benefits of the coloring book that will give you reason to get your own coloring book (or steal one from your kid…).
Working your way through an adult coloring book lets you express yourself in ways that you can’t in your daily work and life routine. You can experiment to your heart’s content—which could lead to some new ideas for your current projects or simply give a boost to your mental health. As you might imagine, different colors activate the brain in different ways. But studies have shown that specifically green and blue have strong effects on enhancing creativity and nourishing innovative thinking.
As creative professionals, we are being lured into the digital world today more than ever. Putting down the keyboard and putting crayon to paper could be the best thing you do all day for your creativity. Coloring is a physical activity that uses fine motor skills and activates different parts of your brain, much like writing by hand. Plus you get to work in full color, not just boring old black and white. It might be hard to step away from the screen, but having your coloring book at hand can help ease your withdrawal symptoms and leave you reeping health benefits and feeling more refreshed to work efficiently later.
Remember recess? It was that glorious part of the day when the school doors were thrown open and you rushed out onto the playground to do whatever you pleased, and no teacher or kid could get in your way. It was your time to run around till you were out of breath, hang upside down from the monkey bars or go swinging to see if your feet could finally touch the sky. Well, the coloring book brings recess back. It may not be as wild and physical as the playground (you have your pilates class for that), but it’s your time to enjoy some good old-fashioned fun–and no one, not even your adult self, can get in your way. And if you prefer to color socially, you can join a coloring circle or start your own.
Feeling overwhelmed by deadlines? Running out of inspiration? Getting anxious about that family reunion? Coloring is the perfect way to zen out and de-stress. Put on some relaxing tunes or nature sounds, and let the colors lead you away from any negative thoughts. The great thing about coloring is not having to worry that you might not be good at it, that you might be doing something wrong or that your clients won’t like the results. This helps reduce anxiety levels, increases self-esteem, reduce heart rates and melt the stress levels away. In Crayola country, there can be no wrong. It’s kind of like a diary: you are doing this just for you, and no one needs to see it. Unless you discover that you’re a coloring genius and want to hang it up on the fridge—just watch out for jealous children.
It’s a rare moment these days when you have no distractions, when you have the luxury of time to allow your thoughts fly free and fearlessly–as you watch the colors bring that underwater ocean scene to life. Don’t spend any time trying to decide on the perfect color for the baby seahorse—let your instinct do the choosing. Your mind has many ideas and inklings to play around with, and you might be surprised at the dots you connect while trying to color within the lines. Because it’s such a simple activity, coloring can produce somewhat of a meditative state which can help with the production of new ideas. Coloring pages in is like an art therapy for your thoughts.
Whether your weapon of choice is a crayon, marker or colored pencil, consider the coloring book your new best friend—fun, forgiving and always there when you need them most. Check out some popular adult coloring book options (intricate designs like geometric patterns or coloring mandalas) today!