Coloring is an activity used in everyday life. Most of us had to be able to color inside the lines in order to pass second grade. While coloring is an enjoyable activity for kids, it can also be helpful (and enjoyable) in adults lives too.
One of the main benefits that coloring has on adults is its ability to de-stress the human mind. In the early 20th century, psychologist Carl Jung used coloring as a relaxation tool for his patients. It de-stresses the human mind because it changes our focus from our problems to the specifics of the coloring such as colors being used, design, and other details. While coloring, the amygdala is relaxed which allows the brain to rest, and the frontal lobe that controls problem solving is opened up, which allows colorers to focus more. It also reminds patients of their childhood, which was most likely less stressful so it causes the patient to enter a less stressed mode. Connecting with your inner child allows you to reminisce on happy events and feel a calmer life when bills, jobs, stress, tests, and social pressure were not things that you had to worry about. Coloring also improves fine motor skills and vision. Since both hemispheres have to communicate because coloring is both logical and creative, the area of the cerebral cortex involved in fine motor skills and vision are used.
Coloring is also used as a tool for expressing feelings during art therapy. A study done in 2006 compares stress levels of two groups of cancer patients. One group went through art therapy and the other did not. It was found that the group that went through this art therapy had lower levels of stress than those that didn’t. This shows that coloring, which is a form of art therapy, can help de-stress a human and can improve the quality of life. Art therapy also helps people with behavior and mood disorders. In the United Kingdom, there is a program called The Art Room program. Art Rooms provide an environment where children can freely express themselves and find ways to boost their self-confidence which will help them improve social skills and gain confidence. Researchers from Oxford University questioned teachers and students and found that teachers saw improvement amongst student who attended Art Rooms and students who attended them had fewer depression symptoms. Dementia, a form of Alzheimers that affects memory mostly in adults, can be treated with art therapy. Coloring can cause the brain to work and focus. A study that followed over 2,500 adults who attended brain-training sessions showed that the more sessions they attended, the higher their improvements in memory. Working the brain may not cure Alzheimers but it challenges their mind which decreases the gradual decline of memory and thinking patterns that Alzheimers patients experience.
For those of you who thought coloring days were over once you left elementary school, you’re wrong. Adult coloring books are sold everywhere and can greatly improve health. Of course, the pictures in the adult coloring book are far more complex and detailed than the children’s coloring books, but those pictures focus our brain which allows us to relax and concentrate on our coloring. So, if you’re stressed during finals week or you just want to take a small brain vacation, I recommend bringing out your inner child and color!
This video interviews a mother and a businesswoman who turns to coloring when she feels stressed.