All my life I've been obsessed with coloring. As a toddler, I loved it so much, I even took to drawing under the dining room table (something I'm sure my parents loved). Even as a teenager, when I was way more into boys and parties than being creative, I still loved to color. In fact, I can remember coming home after a night of partying and sitting cross-legged on my bed with my best friend, crayons and blank sheets of paper scattered around us. As an adult, I've found solace in coloring. It's something I return to again and again, especially when I'm struggling to stay in a positive state of mind.
Coloring has always been a go-to activity for me, but these days I'm not alone. Coloring has become quite the craze for grown-ups, with adult coloring books popping up all over the place. In fact, the number one best-selling book on Amazon right now is this coloring book: Enchanted Forest: An Inky Quest & Coloring Book. Pretty crazy, huh? Who would have thought an adult coloring book would be the top-seller?
I'm not entirely surprised, considering the rising attention paid to mindfulness and the ever-increasing stress in adults' lives today. With so much of our time spent online and at work, it's no wonder we're reverting to childlike, mindful activities to ease some of the day-to-day stress. As noted in this article, the practice of coloring "generates wellness, quietness and also stimulates brain areas related to motor skills, the senses and creativity," which is just what most of us grown-ups need.
Despite all of the de-stressing benefits, coloring really isn't a substitute for meditation or true mindfulness. (Check out this article for some reasons why.) However, I've received so many positive benefits from spending time with a coloring book, and, whether it fits into the traditional concept of meditation or not, I believe coloring does quiet the mind, reduce stress, and promote creativity — three things that encourage more positively present living.
Here are some of the reasons I think that, while it will never replace the true mindfulness of meditation, coloring could be a great de-stressing exercise to add to your life:
COLORING EXPOSES CREATIVITY.
Unless you're in a creative field, you probably don't have a ton of opportunities to be creative as an adult (at least not in the same ways you did as a kid). Coloring offers a chance to pick up the pencils, markers, or crayons and explore the more creative side of yourself. And the great thing about coloring (rather than drawing) is that you don't have to consider yourself a creative person to do it. All you need is a coloring book and some tools!
My favorite tools? Crayola Colored Pencils, Le Plume II Double Ended Markers, Sakura Micron Pens, Copic Markers, Prismacolor Pencil Sharpener, Mini Colored Pencils, and some of my favorite coloring books...
Some of my favorite coloring books right now:
Enchanted Forest: An Inky Quest & Coloring Book / The Mindfulness Coloring Book /
The Mindful Mandala Coloring Book / Creative Therapy: An Anti-Stress Coloring Book
COLORING OFFERS REAL HEALTH BENEFITS.
Coloring has some tangible health benefits too. According to this article, the act of coloring exercises fine motor skills and trains the brain to refocus, two things adults probably don't spend enough time working on. As kids, we do all kinds of things to practice find motor skills while at school, but (depending on your job) as an adult, there aren't many opportunities to hone this important skill. Coloring is great option for cultivating stronger fine motor skills and helping you work on focusing too.
COLORING QUIETS THE MIND.
The most important benefit of coloring, I've found, is that it really does quiet the mind. Once you get into the coloring zone, whatever you're stressed or worried about really seems to take a backseat to focusing on colors (and staying in the lines!). When I was awaiting my surgery, I spent a lot of time coloring to distract myself from worrying about the upcoming procedure and it really helped. There's something very soothing about coloring and it feels in some ways like a kind of meditation.
COLORING FEELS PRODUCTIVE.
One of the things I struggle with when it comes to meditation is that I feel like I'm doing nothing, which is really, really hard for me to do. That's why, for me, coloring is a better calming activity. Even though coloring in a page isn't really all that productive, it feels like I'm doing something and that sense of accomplishment (however unwarranted) makes it easier for me to stick with it in a way that I've always struggled to do while attempting meditation.
COLORING ENCOURAGES EXPRESSION.
Another great benefit of coloring is that encourages personal expression. We have lots of ways we can express ourselves on a daily basis (what we say, do, wear, etc.), but, by they time we're settled into our adult lives, we pretty much know what we like and believe in and stick to those things. Coloring gives you a chance to choose how you see the picture in front of you. The colors you choose and your creative choices with them are a wonderful way to express yourself, which is always a positive thing.
If you want to try your hand at coloring to see if it benefits you, I've created three coloring pages for you to get started. Just click the image below to download your FREE coloring pages!