The Science Behind Adult Coloring & 9 Reasons Why We Should Keep the Therapeutic Trend Going

Art therapy for adults
Photo via article on meditative coloring at: vitals.lifehacker.com

Every year we are exposed to a selection of exciting and innovative trends and 2016 has been no exception. While 2015 brought us the man bun and Adele’s latest album, 2016 has seen a spike in usage of the lemon emoji (thank you, Beyoncé), flowing bohemian blouses and…adult coloring books? What used to be a staple for busy parents and babysitters everywhere to entertain children is now targeting adults and currently one of 2016’s biggest trends. And we’re hoping it sticks.

Although art itself may not be able to cure diseases, art therapy has been used as a coping strategy for years. A 2006 study found that women with cancer who participated in art therapy experienced a significant decrease in symptoms of physical and emotional distress. Art therapy is also a useful coping strategy for diseases other than cancer such as anxiety, depression, dementia and PTSD.

WHAT IS HAPPENING WHEN WE COLOR?

Although adult coloring alone does not necessarily qualify as art therapy, that does not mean that adult coloring is not therapeutic or without merit. There are a number of explanations and interpretations of the benefits of coloring. Similar to meditation, coloring allows us to switch off our brains and focus on the moment itself. Tasks with predictable results such as coloring or knitting are physically calming; using advanced technology, Dr. Stan Rodski, a neuropsychologist who is also the author of his own line of adult coloring books, was able to see physical changes in the body while coloring such as changes in heart rates and brain waves.

A brain scientist, Dr. Joel Pearson, presented a different interpretation of the therapeutic effects of adult coloring. He believes concentrating on coloring an image may cause the replacement of negative thoughts and images with positive ones (i.e. the picture itself).

adult coloring
Photo via huffingtonpost.co.uk

Whatever the actual scientific reason may be, coloring benefits us in a number of ways:

  1. Your brain enters a meditative state and therefore experiences relief while coloring
  2. It’s a hobby that you can take with you wherever you go
  3. In some people, coloring can increase the ability to focus
  4. Focusing on the present helps you achieve mindfulness
  5. Unplugging from technology, even if briefly, encourages creativity over consumption
  6. Coloring can be done by anyone
  7. Levels of stress and anxiety can decrease while coloring
  8. It’s an activity that can be completed socially or individually
  9. You can enhance your abilities including your fine motor skills

The list goes on and on, but most importantly one of our favorite benefits of adult coloring is that it encourages creativity in everyone. Whether you have an artistic medium or don’t consider yourself slightly talented in the arts, you can still get creative! Everyone is an artist and one of the greatest benefits of adult coloring is that it shines a light on that fact.

Don’t have an adult coloring book? Check out our tutorial, DIY: How to Create a Mandala to channel your creativity in another way.

Join our United Arts Campaign to help support the arts in Greater Hartford!

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