Today’s National Coloring Book Day!
Are you the adult that side-eyes the crayons near the salt and pepper at the restaurant? Does the paper covering the table tempt you with its vast blankness?
That’s how it started for me. I wasn’t ever shy about being the adult coloring on the table when the waiter finally came over to take our order.
Instead of Sudoku and word puzzles, I found a coloring book and colored on breaks at work, on the plane and whenever I needed down time. It was easier than riding a bike. There’s something about filling each line with a different color, and whether it’s inside or out, right or wrong doesn’t matter. The act of coloring is completely satisfying.
Busting the Myth That Only Kids Should Color
So, when is the exact time a child is supposed to stop coloring? Is it a requirement to being an adult?
After kindergarten, coloring with crayons is infantile compared to color pencils. In adult life, the only time you get a little color is when you highlight something on a report — and the choices are usually a weird neon pink or yellow. Seriously?
I really want to have a conversation with whoever decided adults don’t need to color because you do. Coloring sooths by keeping the mind active but relaxed as it focuses on the task at hand. Coloring also engages your inner child, and we all need more of that. Coloring is for all ages.
Adult Coloring Is All the Rage
If you walk down the aisles at your local craft store, don’t be surprised to adults fighting over the last box of crayons — for themselves. Just kidding. However, adult coloring books are definitely a thing right now.
The first successful coloring books for adults hit the market in 2012 and 2013 and pushed the odd hobby into a full blown trend. Even Crayola, the brand many adults recognize from their childhood, has launched a coloring collection for adults called Coloring Escapes. The market for selling print books has also seen a major boost through the release of adult coloring books. Adults finally have permission to color, and they are taking full advantage of that.
What Does Coloring Do for Adults?
Coloring is self-soothing and a beloved past time — for kids. Later in life, such activities are replaced with taking a walk or meditating. If you have trouble closing your eyes at night, though, why is it going to be any different when you meditate? Meditation works wonders for many, but for others, forget about it. Something doesn’t click.
The truth is that art heals, and coloring is an is an easy way to self-soothe and express yourself. Psychologists don’t count it as therapy, but they do say that coloring has benefits for adults:
1. Coloring Sparks Creativity
Especially for those who have never felt like they’re really creative individuals, coloring provides a safe space to explore art and creation.
Color in or outside of the lines. Sketch on top of the pattern and add new designs. Use wacky colors. Color to your favorite music, and let the music influence what you feel compelled to create. The possibilities are endless.
2. Coloring is Zen
While coloring isn’t exactly meditation, you are practicing the art of observation and doing nothing. You let your mind wander as you color and are naturally drawn to fill in the white spaces with color. The repetitive motions of filling in the pattern may be likened to the deep breaths you take during meditation and simply sitting still.
3. Coloring Helps You Cope and Reduce Anxiety
Even psychologist Carl Jung often had his patients color after a session to relax. Coloring is a quiet activity that also stimulates both sides of the brain, engaging the individual’s logical and creative sides. It positively affects the part of the brain that controls and processes emotion by lowering the activity of the amygdala. When you focus on a particular activity for so long, you also tend not to obsess over what is stressing you out.
Make coloring into a bedtime ritual — a ritual is important to establish for winding down and getting a good night’s sleep. Let all of your stress and worries go as you fill in each page with color.
4. Coloring Makes You Remember How to Play
Your inner child is likely pretty bored with life, especially when he or she only gets to color with highlighters at work. When you color with actual coloring utensils, you’re taken back to childhood with a simple, quiet activity you can do anywhere.
If you’re like me, you could color for hours before putting the book away. There’s something imaginative and safe about getting lost in the patterns on the page and filling them in with the colors of your choice. You’re creating for the sake of creation and the enjoyment of doing so. It’s really like you’re playing, and that’s something that many adults need to do more.
Get to Coloring!
The wonderful thing about the Internet is that many artists have graciously offered free coloring pages for adults and children. There are even entire websites dedicated to different topics and subjects you’d be interested in coloring. Here are just a few:
- Free Mandalas
- Coloring Pages for Adults: Return to Childhood
- Art is Fun: Free pages by Thaneeya McArdle
- Easy Peasy and Fun: 25 Free Adult Coloring Pages
Coloring is an activity to be continued into adulthood. You don’t have to color Disney characters, but if it strikes your fancy, do it. You can also color mandalas, landscapes or a silly bee sticking its tongue out —and you don’t need anyone’s permission to do it.
Color simply for the sake of creation and relaxation. Color to engage your inner child and your imagination, because anything and everything really is possible.