Recently there has been an explosion of adult coloring books hitting the market. People are using coloring books as a fun pastime and a way to relax. Why has this trend suddenly appeared, and what does it mean for you?
Actually, art therapy has long been used successfully to help patients suffering from mental disorders such as depression. Coloring books have been provided to prison inmates and women in shelters to channel their creativity and lower their stress levels.
Now, it seems that the therapeutic value of coloring books has been re-discovered by adults who want to reconnect with their inner child. They have gained a mass-market appeal that just didn’t exist before.
The reason behind this seems fairly clear. As the pressures of modern life continue to take a toll on physical and mental health, a simple, relaxing activity like coloring can be an effective antidote. The simple, repetitive movements promote an inner calm and lower the levels of stress hormones like cortisol. Coloring shares many similarities with other mindfulness activities, like deep breathing and meditation, that regulate the HPA axis and activate the Parasympathetic Nervous System.
So, should you be using coloring books to lower your stress levels?
Amazon Bestseller Lists Don’t lie!
At the time of writing, no fewer than seven of Amazon’s 20 top selling books are coloring books for adults. It certainly shows that we crave low-stress hobbies that don’t require us to leap off bridges, free-dive with dolphins or scale mountains!
Unlocking pleasant memories of childhood pastimes, coloring books for adults are not just created by artists who want to re-awaken our interest in art and set our imagination free. Many of them are created in consultation with clinical psychologists.
Speaking to the Huffington Post recently, clinical psychologist Ben Michaelis, a co-author of bestselling adult coloring book Outside the Lines, explained: “Carl Jung used to try to get his patients to color in mandalas at the turn of the last century, as a way of getting people to focus and to allow the subconscious to let go. Now we know it has a lot of other stress-busting qualities as well.”
Setting Free Your Inner Creative Child
Every human being has the potential to be creative in some form. Sadly, social conventions more often than not stifle our creative impulses, preventing us from becoming painters, needlework artists, singers, sculptors or musicians. Instead of permitting our minds to dwell on imaginative opportunities to express our innermost feelings and thoughts, we follow the “party line” of those who tell us what to do and think, be they teachers, parents or our bosses when we are grown up.
We lose the ability to think outside the box and no longer see the world through “fun” glasses; for a child a horse doesn’t have to be brown, black or gray, it can be orange or green and the size of a house or as small as a thimble. Our educated adult brains, however, tell us that horses must be a certain height and color. Most of us wouldn’t see a thimble-sized horse, even if it kicked us. We KNOW horses aren’t orange and we can prove it, too.
But is this a fun way to look at the world?
Coloring books allow you to rediscover how much fun it can be to come across the unexpected. An orange horse, a camel the size of a dog, a dog the size of an elephant – just enjoy the moment, never mind the scientific explanation of why this could never be!
Using coloring books as therapy, you can unlock your imagination, reconnect with your inner child, and regain a sense of inner peace. This can have real benefits for your physical and mental health.
Coloring For Total Relaxation
In therapy, coloring books are used to create a channel of communication between therapist and patient. Art helps patients to express feelings of abandonment, anger, trauma and bereavement in a way that words can’t. Analysts use patients’ art works to interpret what is going on inside troubled minds.
Coloring allows you to shut out the world around you. You “zone out” of daily stress and forget about all the things that upset or worry you. You are totally relaxed. As a result, blood pressure goes down along with stress levels and anxiety. Your tension headaches become fewer, you sleep better, and your digestion improves. Coloring can provide relief, at least temporarily, from many of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue.
Reducing daily stress levels is a very important part of recovering from adrenal fatigue. Taking the time to enjoy mindfulness activities like meditation or coloring can help to regulate your cortisol levels, take pressure off your adrenal glands and HPA axis, and lead to a healthier, happier you.