Grit. Stick-to-it-iveness. (An impossible, almost Seussian word to say. I don’t recommend it—) Getting things done. Those people.
When adult coloring books started to become a “thing,” I wondered at the phenomenon. It seemed a little strange except for the fact that I, as an adult, still color—or to be more correct, I work in color. While I may not often color other people’s work, I do experiment with chalk pastels and other media.
(Side note: most of my exercises in experimentation are thanks to Art Snacks, a monthly art supply subscription service that I adore and highly recommend.)
The craze about coloring, though…how to make sense of it? Why should adults color? Is it just a fad? Or are there real benefits to the activity? I obviously have a conflict of interest since I sell a coloring book, but I hope the following reasons show that coloring isn’t trendy or a wish to return to Peter Pannish childhood. It’s altogether good for adults.
1. It’s Therapeutic
Coloring isn’t therapy, but it can be therapeutic. Some counselors use coloring to augment art therapy, which typically involves creating original work rather than filling in someone else’s. For example, coloring can relieve stress. Men and women use coloring to unwind after a long day of work or school. It’s akin to taking a lavender-scented bath or listening to soothing music. It forces the body to still and the mind to calm.
2. It Trains the Mind
Coloring can also be used as a way to improve mindfulness, or, as I sometimes term it, “mind-fullness.” The activity is easy enough, but it asks a person to give concentrated attention to one thing and one thing alone. It’s a bit like controlling the breath in yoga. As the person colors or breathes, the mind sharpens to a single point. Everything else—the television set in the background, the phone with its notifications, the already building to-do list—falls away for a while.
3. It Helps with Problem Solving
It’s amazing what one can solve when not paying attention to it. Coloring acts in that manner, as does running. It’s as though the body is set on autopilot, and the mind goes to work on something else, be it a work challenge or a draft for a poem.
4. It Exercises Fine Motor Skills
Coloring is a favorite activity of parents and teachers during the toddler years and preschool because it develops kids’ fine motor skills. Kids don’t care; they’re having fun scribbling on the paper. They have little comprehension that learning to color inside the lines is preparing them for the finer work of penmanship or, if they continue in the arts, drawing. Coloring has the same effect throughout life, although it’s starting to be used more with the elderly and people who have experienced a stroke or other injury. It helps redevelop fine motor skills and improve quality of life.
5. It Can Be a Social Activity
Perhaps one of the best parts about coloring is that it’s a social activity. Teachers often join kids in coloring; so do parents, grandparents, and even the angst-ridden older sibling who’s hit the teenage years. Coloring brings people together and often produces a household peace, be it ever so fragile.
Adults have taken the social aspect a step further with coloring clubs and meet-ups. They get together at a local restaurant or library and color for a few hours. Through the activity, they get to meet new people and develop friendships.
Coloring has a number of benefits. It can reduce stress, help solve problems, and build relationships, but the greatest and simplest benefit may be this: it’s fun. It doesn’t take a large capital investment (although Prismacolor pencils can cost a small fortune), nor is it high-maintenance. The coloring book sits on the shelf or table and patiently waits for the colorer to come.
Check out the Write Right Colors Shakespeare coloring book! It features 15 hand-drawn illustrations with quotes from the bard.
Image: aotaro (Creative Commons)
I’ve become involved in a variety of new activities in the past year. Most have been focused on spiritual development; I believe that being ready for whatever comes next requires, as Tony Merida would say, a healthy soul. I operate best when my soul is in order, when its delight and happiness is in the Lord.