anxiety happiness health mental health wellness

Relaxation and Anxiety Relief through Coloring

I was walking through one of the warehouse shopping clubs I belong to yesterday, and found it interesting that their adult book section contained only two types of books: Cook books, and Coloring books.  Food is always a popular topic, but I’m very happy to see more good art being made for adult coloring books, and that it’s an activity that is becoming increasingly popular.

Sure, adult coloring books are trendy, and groups are popping up all over the country where grown-ups get together to relax and color their favorite art, often making group projects.  But is this activity something that is worth spending time on?

Science says absolutely yes!  Coloring, which involves a high level of hand-eye coordination, helps a person focus, both during the activity and afterwards.  You have to keep your chosen color inside the lines.  It’s also a way to engage creativity, since your choice of colors and patterns is nearly infinite.  Using the left and the right brain together on a focused activity helps your mind to relax, soothing the chaos and stress from day to day issues.  It distracts all the impulses that make many people fidgety, so coloring can help them be more engaged in discussions in settings like classrooms.

The changes in brainwave patterns and heart rate variability hint at strong positive impacts to our long term health from this focused, meditative pastime.

Those who have been diagnosed with serious diseases, such as cancer, have seen benefits in their ability to accept their diagnosis and increase their ability to cope.  Logic centers of the brain are re-engaged, so progressive steps to manage the disease can be more easily undertaken.  The way coloring reduces our stress response is a treatment in itself, too.  When your mind and body are in a less stressed state, we are more easily able to heal from serious diseases, and there is an increased positive response to treatments.

A great way to boost the positive effects of your time coloring is to add affirmations to your art.  Since your brain is already in a more calmed state, choosing words and phrases that you want to embed more deeply into your mind will be more effective during this state.  There are even some coloring books that have affirmations built in, like this charming one.  Adding affirmations to something your mind is already engaged in will strengthen the neural connections that make you believe statements as truth, and the reduced stress response will make this type of learning significantly easier.  You’ll be able to actively change the way you feel and the things you believe about yourself and your life, so you can take a more proactive role in making positive change happen for yourself.

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