Let’s face it. We all experience stress. We know we should meditate to find our inner Zen, but sitting down and trying to let thoughts go? That can be a challenge. There may be another way to reach a meditative state that is much more fun: coloring.
“Coloring is like meditation because it encourages engagement with the present moment,” said NCU professor Dr. Mary Jill Blackwell. “When we focus on the present moment, we do not worry about the future, ruminate about the past, or engage in negative self talk. “
It’s time to break out your crayons. Coloring is a perfect way to unwind and adults everywhere are doing it. So much so, that several adult coloring books like Johanna Basford’s “Secret Garden” hit the top 10 Amazon best-selling books.
“Experts also believe the repetitive motion of coloring can induce a state of relaxation,” explained Dr. Blackwell. “Whenever we take time out to participate in activities we enjoy, or connect with the present moment by being mindful of our sensory experiences, we are more likely to activate our parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). High PNS activity means heightened immune functioning and less stress arousal. “
The adult coloring books flying off the shelves bear little resemblance to the simplistic, cartoon coloring books for children. The adult version offers intricate designs to color. It can literally take hours to simply finish one page.
While adult coloring is trendy today, Carl Jung used to have his patients color mandalas or geometric patterns to get people to focus on something, allowing the subconscious to let go. According to Dr. Blackwell, research demonstrated that coloring mandalas or geometric figures (considered structured coloring) reduces anxiety more than coloring on a blank piece of paper.
Here are the Top 7 Benefits of Coloring:
• Increased relaxation
• Expanded creativity
• More balance of body, mind and spirit
• Increased ability to focus
• Reduced anxiety and stress
• Improved fine motor and visual skills
To get started, pick up a coloring book and then decide on whether to use colored pencils, art markers, gel ink pens, or even the old standard Crayolas. Enjoy and relax.