Why Coloring Books Works?
Coloring books for adults featuring everything from mandalas and animals to movie and book characters are showing up everywhere you turn. Books can be found lining store shelves, and thousands of pages are available for download all over the internet. What was once viewed as an activity for children is now being marketed for adults too. Companies advertise that this childhood pastime can relieve stress, but why does it work?
Coloring Books Stimulates Our Brain
The act of coloring incorporates both sides of the brain. By looking at the pattern and making color choices you are stimulating the logical side, or left side of the brain. When you mix and match the colors to make a visually pleasing piece of art you engage the right side, also known as the creative side. Keeping the brain active can improve problem-solving skills and memory.
Does Coloring Bring a Feeling of Happiness?
The stimulation is also great for stress relief. When we engage in a pleasurable activity our brain releases dopamine. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that stimulates the reward center of the brain, resulting in a feeling of happiness. It’s our body’s own anti-depressant.
Coloring Gives You Something to Focus On
Thousands of thoughts pass through our minds every day, and many of those are not the most positive. Deadlines, due dates, schedules, and appointments are always at the front of our thoughts, leaving little room for anything else. We are constantly rearranging our worries in order of priority. In short, we spend a lot of time focusing on a lot of things that are very negative. It increases our stress level greatly and can leave us feeling anxious.
Does Coloring Relieve Stress?
Filling in the designs on a coloring page gives you something to focus on. Coloring calms the mind and allows you to focus on one thing instead of trying to worry about a hundred things at once. The act actually fills up your mind, pushing out all other thoughts. It’s similar to not being able to hear two people talking at the same time. There just isn’t room in our brain for it. By pushing out the other thoughts and focusing on just one you enter a meditative state where you feel more relaxed. The stress melts away for that moment.
Coloring Provides a Feeling of Control
As adults we don’t always feel that we have much control over our own lives. The things we do are often dictated by needs such as paying bills, buying food, and caring for our children. At work, we have set tasks that are laid out by our bosses. Nothing feels like it’s just yours alone. People have a natural need to be in control. Feeling like you don’t have it can lead to feelings of worry or anxiety.
When you color you are in complete control over the final outcome. You create something that is for you and no one else. Making art can provide a feeling of ownership and accomplishment that you may not be getting in your daily life. Re-establishing these feelings brings positive emotions and thoughts.
Coloring Stimulates the Imagination
Can an elephant be purple? Have you ever seen a rainbow unicorn? Fantasy gives us an escape from the real world. In the realm of dreams there are no worries or fears. There is no stress. Everything is carefree. Things can be any color or shape. There are no boundaries.
The daily grind of work and family life doesn’t leave much room for daydreaming. There’s our job, after school activities, doctor appointments, caregiving, housekeeping, budgeting, grocery shopping, and the list goes on. When you are constantly surrounded by the world you live in, it is so hard to forget about your worries and relax. We jump from one task to the next without taking the time to slow down and just let our minds wander.
Coloring pages give us the chance to drift away and spark our imaginations. You can create freely without the restrictions of the real world. There’s no one judging your work, no pass or fail, no penalties, and no time limit. Nobody to tell you that pink zebras aren’t realistic. On these pages you can make anything your heart desires. You can take as long as you want to build the design you dream of. The stress relief comes from the feeling of being free to dream.
Coloring Pages Reminds Us of Being a Child
As children we didn’t have to worry about our careers, bills, caring for our parents or raising a family. Life was simple and easy. For most of us, childhood was fun. When you think of what it was like to be a child, it brings back good memories that you tend to forget about as you grow up. You often don’t remember what it was like to live without stress.
Picking up a coloring page and filling in the pictures takes you back to that time in your life. You get to experience freedom all over again. Good memories replace the worry and anxiety and allow you to smile and breathe easier.
There are many ways that the act of coloring can relieve stress for your aging parents or loved ones, from releasing the natural anti-depressant in the brain to simply reminding what it’s like to be a child. It provides an escape from a daily grind and lets your mind relax. In a world filled with anxiety, coloring pages bring a bit of peace.