You probably know an adult, or someone who is old enough to count as an adult, who colors in coloring books. Maybe your aunt is always trying to give you coloring pages or you have friends with stacks of pre-drawn pages hidden away. Maybe you want nothing more than to sit down with your markers or pencils and add color to a picture you’ve had your eye on. In any case, you’ve probably noticed that coloring books for adults have exploded in popularity. Why?
Some fads are inexplicable. Others may be mysterious but come with some compelling evidence to their beneficial qualities or helpfulness. Coloring books marketed to adults fall in the latter category.
I can’t say why now is the era of the adult coloring book, but I have a few reasons to be grateful for the trend.
Coloring books are fun. This needs no explanation.
Coloring has been proven to have a boatload of health benefits, mostly related to reducing stress. However, health benefits also include exercising fine motor skills and practice focusing the mind. Coloring books have been “prescribed” as far back as Carl Jung, as noted in this Fox News article and this Huffington Post article.
To take a quote from Medical Daily on coloring and art therapy:
“Research shows this form of therapy often has tangible results. One 2006 study, for example, found that mindfulness art therapy for women with cancer helped to significantly decrease symptoms of physical and emotional distress during treatment. Another study from the same year concluded that after only one hour of art therapy, adult cancer patients of all ages “overwhelmingly expressed comfort” and a desire to continue with the therapy.” – Dana Dovey, Medical Daily
Coloring books allow adults who never considered themselves artistically gifted a chance to express themselves through color and art. It’s artistic and creative, but you don’t need to know how to draw, and so there’s less pressure. The post notes that there are experts who consider coloring books to be therapeutic but not “art therapy”, but the proven benefits of adults coloring still remain.
The explanations for the very tangible physiological responses to coloring vary. Some say it is due to repetition and attention to patterns and detail associated with coloring that cause the brain to calm itself. Others say that focusing on color and image helps people replace negative or stressful thoughts with pleasant ones.
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Among a few that I own, “I Love My Hair: A Coloring Book of Braids, Coils, and Doodle Dos” target=”_blank”>I Love My Hair: A Coloring Book of Braids, Coils, and Doodle Dos” stands out as one of my favorite. It’s cute, there are tons of patterns and little things to color, and it shows off hair of all kinds of textures, styles, curls, braids, and dos.
I’ve also been eyeing “Cthulhu’s Coloring Book and Necronomicon of Sunny Day Doings” target=”_blank”>Cthulhu’s Coloring Book and Necronomicon of Sunny Day Doings” by Phil Velikan. I’m a sucker for Cthulhu and the eldritch within our primordial depths.
And I know I have a friend who would love this “David Bowie: Starman: A Coloring Book” target=”_blank”>David Bowie: Starman: A Coloring Book”.
As someone who has several chronic illnesses, coloring helps me feel calm and creative and make pretty things to put on my walls even when I’m not feeling good. It’s fun and helps calm my nervous system down, and unlike tv or movies, it’s a fairly quiet activity. But even when my symptoms aren’t too bad, I find that I just love coloring.
I tend to use markers over any other kind of coloring utensil, and I have yet to find my favorite kind.
Any coloring book suggestions? Perhaps favorite markers?