April is Stress Awareness Month, and since such a large percentage of the disease and illness people suffer from is directly linked to chronic stress, it is important to find ways to practice stress management every day. There is a stress management trend that is sweeping the US right now that is being called the new form of meditation. Coloring for adults is that trend. In fact, adult coloring books have become so popular, that seven of the top 100 selling books on Amazon.com are now adult coloring books.
There are plenty of websites and media outlets that are touting the amazing health benefits of coloring. Many claim that coloring is meditative, while others claim that it is art therapy. And while there have not been any extensive studies done to gauge the effectiveness of coloring for stress relief, there are definite stress management benefits that come from spending some time with some crayons and a good coloring book.
Here is what happens when you color:
You slow down
We live in a world where being busy is the norm, and we easily get overwhelmed and overloaded by ever growing “to-do” lists. When you take time to color, you are actually slowing down. You are not focusing on what needs to be done next, but just allowing yourself to do something at a much slower pace.
Your breathing changes
Most adults are unaware of how they breathe throughout the day. Most fall into a bad pattern of breathing shallow or even holding their breath unconsciously as they focus intently on certain. Shallow breathing can contribute to rising stress levels as it prevents the body from getting an adequate supply of oxygen, which stresses the body. And the busier you are, the more prone you will be to breathing shallowly. When you begin to color, the breathing slows and deepens and you take in more oxygen, leading to a reduction in stress.
You forget about problems
When coloring you are focused on that task, and not on the problems from the day. Sitting down and taking the time to color has actually been shown to calm the amygdala, the area of the brain that controls emotions and motivation. The reduction of activity in the amygdala can help lessen the effect of negative emotions and allow you to let go of your problems for awhile.
You remove excess stimulation
With all of the technology that everyone has access to, people are constantly being exposed to external stimulation from television, cell phones, computers and more. This constant stream of stimulation can actually increase stress levels significantly because it causes us to be connected to others continuously and causes us to be exposed to noise and light for longer periods than normal. When you take time to color, you reduce external stimulation, which in turn reduces stress. It is best that if you wish to reduce stress through coloring that you color without a lot of external noise, such as the television or loud music. Silence is the best for true stress relief while coloring, but soft music will not overwhelm your senses and create stress.
Coloring boosts creativity!
When you color a beautiful pattern, it feels good to see the color that you are adding, bring that picture to life! Many people are choosing to spend time coloring because even short sessions with a coloring book have been shown to ramp up creativity and increase the ability to focus.
Coloring may not be the best thing since meditation, but it definitely can help to reduce your stress level and give you a break from the demands of life. Coloring books can be relatively inexpensive, starting at around $5 and going up to $20. You can also find a lot of coloring pages online that are free to download.