Coloring the 60 Blog

Image result for coloring book image

How to win at life:  Let people do what they need to do to make themselves happy.  Mind your own business and do what you need to do to make yourself happy.  The end.

I played like a kid today.  I met a friend for stitch-n-bitch and, while she finished a Christmas wreath for her front door and then started a pillow, I colored.  Coloring is not usually a craft to be included in the standard stitch-n-bitch format, yet I was creative and felt that I actually accomplished something.

Adult coloring books are all the rage right now.  Just walk down the book section of Costco and there are probably two dozen books to choose from.  And I think Amazon has twenty pages of choices.  Researchers and art therapists have touted the calming benefits for over a decade.  The first commercially successful adult coloring books were published only four years ago, and it’s now a verified trend.  Some researchers have even suggested coloring as an alternative to meditation.

Therapists have used art as a way to explore feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, increase self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety and increase self-esteem.  It’s quite obviously very similar to good old-fashioned therapy.  Art therapy is also a means of personal expression.  Using a coloring book is not exactly the same as completing a session with a licensed art therapist, but it does get your creative juices flowing.

Coloring offers a slew of mental benefits.  It has the potential to reduce anxiety, create focus, and bring about more mindfulness.  Groundbreaking research in 2005 proved anxiety levels dropped when subjects colored mandalas, which are round frames with geometric patterns inside. Simply doodling, though, had no effect in reducing the other subjects’ stress levels.

And that’s what I colored today.  For my birthday, my friend gave me a giant book with just mandalas.  I opened the book to a random drawing called “Lollipop” and used colored pencils to start my masterpiece.  I colored for almost two hours and still have more to do to finish my lollipop.

Just like meditation, coloring also allows us to switch off our brains from other thoughts and focus only on the moment, helping to alleviate free-floating anxiety. It can be particularly effective for people who aren’t comfortable with more creatively expressive forms of art.  One researcher stated:  “My experience has been that those participants who are more guarded find a lot of tranquility in coloring an image.  It feels safer and it creates containment around their process.”
During today’s art “session,” I felt like I was practicing mindfulness and feeling almost mellow.  Need a hobby to just help you chill out?  Coloring books could be the answer.





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