If you were a fan of the TV series “The King of Queens,” chances are you saw the opening segment of an episode that has Doug sitting at the kitchen table coloring. Carrie, at first skeptical, becomes intrigued and joins him. Both seem happy and relaxed until a battle erupts over the orange crayon.
Coloring isn’t just for kids anymore. Adults all over the world are going crazy for coloring books, sending titles like “Creative Cats,” “The Art of Nature” and “Secret Garden” to the top of best sellers lists.
Unlike a lot of other fads, though, this one may actually be good for you. Mental health professionals point out that coloring is a stress-busting activity that clears your head and calms you down. Therapeutic properties aside, coloring would be beneficial because it’s just plain fun.
“Coloring books are a lost art,” says Christine Giardina, LCMPH, art therapist at Concord High School in North Wilmington. “It’s neat that we’re figuring out that something so simple and gratifying that we did as little kids can actually be good for us.”
Here are seven reasons why you should consider coloring:
1. Coloring has a storied therapeutic history.
Famed psychiatrist Carl Jung prescribed mandala coloring books to his patients 100 years ago. These books are available for purchase today.
2. Coloring reduces stress and anxiety.
We live in a stressful world of non-stop messages. Texts, emails and phone calls even invade our sleep. Clinicians note that coloring is a meditative, free-time activity that gives the amygdale—the fear center of your brain—a rest. Giving the amygdale periodic rests retrains it to respond less harshly to stress.
3. Coloring promotes coordination.
In our virtual world, fewer and fewer adults engage in activities that make use of the fine motor skills we developed as children. Because coloring requires the two hemispheres of our brains to work together, the activity can help delay the loss of these skills as we age. “It’s all about the pathways in the brain,” says Giardina. “The more you’re able to connect things in your brain by doing things more often, it will help you as you get older and the brain begins to age.”
4. Coloring is mindful.
Because coloring requires attention to detail, it helps you “zone out” and forget life’s problems for a while. Think of it as “mono-tasking” in a multitasking world. “The chance to be in the moment and be mindful of the moment is something everybody needs to be able to increase some happiness every now and then,” says Giardina.
5. Coloring inspires creativity.
Coloring helps you achieve peace and calm and when you’re relaxed, lots of good things happen, like reduced blood pressure, fewer tension headaches and digestive problems. You might even find a solution to a problem that’s been vexing you.
6. Coloring lets you express yourself.
Your coloring book is your coloring book to do with as you wish. No one else’s opinion matters. “Art is a reflection of whoever you are at that moment,” says Giardina. So, if you want a blue cat or an orange sky, so be it.
7. Coloring can be social.
Coloring needn’t be a solitary activity. Like any hobby, it affords the opportunity to bond with other enthusiasts. Just remember to bring your own crayons.