Are Coloring Books For Adults A Fleeting Fad or A Form Of Therapy?
Publishers and designers are jumping on the bandwagon in their droves to produce these books.
What are the choices?
Of course you can order online and there are so many different styles to choose from – something for everyone and so very different from the children’s coloring books that we might be more familiar with. The adult versions cover vintage, fantasy, botanical, color therapy, secret gardens and many more. You can even download your own printables or follow a dedicated Pinterest board. There are tutorials to be found on the best way to color in as well as advice on the coloring tools to use. A whole new industry has grown up around this phenomenon.
For example, you are not going to get away with those stubby wax crayons as you would with a child’s coloring book. Adult coloring books are intricate with tiny details. Colored pencils are ideal. Another suggestion is art markers but of course there is a wide range of art supplies to choose from.
What about those health benefits?
The health benefits (including being therapeutic) are said to be immense.
However, according to Jo Kelly, president the Australian and New Zealand Arts Therapy Association, adult coloring books are no replacement for an in-the-flesh art therapist.
“An arts therapist is a qualified, trained individual who helps people and uses creative processes” says Kelly in a recent interview. She admits that by encouraging people to set time aside for their own enjoyment, adult coloring books have their benefits, “but to suggest that it’s a sort of creative art expression, you’re actually using other people’s designs—why not make your own?”
But I am not convinced. There seem to be a whole host of health and other benefits.
Yoga for your brain?
It could well be…
- Coloring is a stress-free activity that relaxes the amygdala (the fear center of the brain) allowing your mind to get a well deserved rest. Coloring is a meditative, free-time activity you can easily schedule, making it perfect for retraining your amygdala to respond less harshly to stress.
- Coloring is portable and hassle-free, making it easy to do when travelling, commuting or just waiting around.
- Coloring is good for you because it’s fundamentally fun. And it lets you be you because it is your book and it does not matter what anyone else thinks of it. You can keep it to yourself or show it around.
- Coloring can be social too with the growth in “coloring parties”. The the bonus is that you don’t have too concentrate too much when with others doing the same thing. You can talk and enjoy a glass of wine at the same time!
- Coloring events can be organized by companies as an opportunity to bond with co-workers. Stress-free time with no competitive edge.
- You have to stay inside the lines so it trains your brain to focus too, opening up the frontal lobe of the brain and the home of organizing and problem solving.
- Coloring improves your fine motor skills and vision, requiring the two hemispheres of your brain to communicate – much like crosswords do. Coloring is therapeutic and may even delay or prevent the onset of dementia in older people.
- You can even use your colored-in pages to decorate. The possibilities are endless – lining drawers, wrapping gifts, framed as an art print and more.
Some will say “What a waste of time!” But any activity with so many health benefits could never be a waste of time.
And don’t be put off by anyone saying with an air of superiority “But is it art?”!