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Wellness Trend: Adult Coloring Books

by Laura Beans

Tapping into the therapeutic properties of coloring books for adults

Coloring by Kari Eavenson Ivins. Follow her on Instagram @unicornbreathh

In childhood, coloring was all about practice: practicing focus, practicing patience and practicing fine motor skills by “staying in the lines.” But adult coloring books—the increasing popular phenomenon sweeping the nation—serves an entirely different purpose.

These grown-up coloring books (featuring intricate free-form designs as well as beautifully sophisticated animals, landscapes and more) are meant to be a form of art therapy, helping adults unwind, de-stress and relax after a long hard day. And, by tapping into creativity,  bring joy.

“Creativity is the new happiness,” says Organic Spa Media Editor-in-Chief, Rona Berg.

At its most basic, creativity is the ability to use the imagination to generate original ideas. And recent research has surfaced supporting the importance of exercising the right side of the brain—known to control all things creative—to achieve well-being and mindfulness, no matter how logical or analytical you may think you are.

Coloring by Kari Eavenson Ivins. Follow her on Instagram @unicornbreathh 

Not only can coloring stimulate this creative center, but the effects can be far-reaching. A 2006 study found that cancer patients who participated in mindfulness-based art therapy demonstrated a significant decrease in symptoms of physical and emotional distress during treatment, while showing significant improvement in health-related quality of life measurements.

In another study, published the same year, adult cancer patients expressed “overwhelming comfort” after just one hour of art therapy class during treatment.

One of the earliest proponents of the idea that art therapy could act as a form of healing was Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung, who encouraged his patients to draw mandalas, believing they were archetypal forms.

Drawing from Jung’s idea, a 2005 study from Knox College in Illinois found that sketching mandalas for just 20 minutes could reduce the negative effects of anxiety. This sort of research bodes well for the effects coloring can have on those suffering from depression, dementia and hyperactivity, among other mental disorders.

Adult coloring books can be viewed as a form of meditation, allowing us to focus on the moment through an unpretentious creative outlet—perfect for those strapped for time or who may not consider themselves artistic.

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