[Emily's note: I was skeptical and slightly intrigued when I caught wind of the new raging trend in adult coloring. On one hand, I find classically meditative hobbies like knitting to be oddly stress inducing. On the other hand – a promise of a calm mind AND I get to play with crayons, yes please!
In this post Leslie Murphy shares her experiences, which validate my new found love of coloring too. I think you're gonna wanna give it a whirl…]
Picasso. Monet. Rembrandt. Yeah, they are famous artists. Me? I’m nowhere close to that kind of talent, but give me a colored pencil or marker or heck, even a crayon, and I can color with the best of them!
As a kid I loved to color and even entered a number of coloring contests, scoring a gingerbread house–even a stuffed bunny.
My inner child is now doing a happy dance given the latest trend that has everyone grabbing their favorite Crayolas: adult coloring.
Adult coloring is exploding in popularity with adult coloring books flying off the bookshelves and topping the bestseller lists. And no, these are not your typical kids cartoon character coloring books.
Like Ryan Gosling? Yep, there’s a coloring book solely devoted to his beautiful face.
A fan of Game of Thrones? The show has its own coloring book as well.
The possibilities of coloring fun are endless.
So why should you jump on this bandwagon?
Besides the obvious fun of it and perhaps nostalgia it conjures, I’ve experienced four added benefits since rediscovering this hobby.
4 reasons why adult coloring is a YES
#1 – Coloring induces relaxation
Some days after all the running around between school drop off/pick up, meal prep and cooking, playing with kids and working from home, I actually find it difficult to unwind whenever I have a few minutes to myself.
Now, if I need help shutting my mind off, I simply pick up my book and color. Even if it’s just 5 minutes or even 30, I can escape into a picture with nothing else vying for my attention. And the best part is that the most pressing decision I’m forced to make while coloring is what color to use where.
It’s no wonder that adult coloring has shown to have the same relaxing, anxiety-busting qualities as meditation (though it’s far easier for some to pick up than meditation!). Even the father of psychology himself, Carl Jung, supposedly had his patients color mandalas as a way to unlock their subconscious and focus (source).
#2 – Coloring is the antidote to too much screen time
I’ve been making a conscious effort this year to unplug from technology as I was finding myself constantly on my smart phone–checking email, surfing Pinterest, checking Facebook, you name it. I was becoming—no I was!—addicted to the constant need to stay up to date and connected.
Coloring is one method that has definitely helped me to unplug—to step away from the iPhone, iPad, and TV—to cultivate some much needed mindfulness instead of wasting time on mindlessness.
#3 – Coloring provides bonding time
Even before this idea of adult coloring took off, I loved coloring with my kids. Whenever they’d ask, “What should we do now Mommy?” I’d be sure to suggest, “Let’s color!”
Now we each sit down with our own books and utensil of choice and color together. More often than not everyone wants to help color Mommy’s picture so it’s become a true group activity.
When my mom came to visit this summer, I made sure to have a coloring book ready just for her so that she could join right in. Even after the kids went to bed, it was fun to pull out our books and spend time coloring while catching up. So even though coloring is an individual activity, it has become something fun that I can also do with my loved ones.
If coloring at home with loved ones isn’t your thing, Facebook groups have already popped up for coloring aficionados to share their work. As for me, I’ve already told my bestie that our next girls’ night out is going to be a coloring meet up. BYOB will now have a new meaning for us: Bring Your Own Book!
#4 – Coloring inspires creativity (no, really!)
Ok, so maybe this sounds corny but since I’ve been coloring I have noticed that I feel more creative—inspired even.
Our living room and playroom have desperately needed makeovers for quite some time but I’ve never had it in me to tackle the project. Well the project has liftoff and I’m thoroughly embracing it and having fun rearranging furniture, hanging pictures and contemplating paint and rug colors.
It’s also shifted and clarified my mindset on career and personal goals that I’ve been contemplating. It’s even helped me break through some writer's block!
I find that I’m always using my left brain, constantly analyzing and thinking, but coloring has enabled my right brain to flex some more of its muscle.
What you need to get started
Ready to unwind, unplug, reconnect and be inspired?
Well, you only need two things: something to color and something to color with. Simple.
Here are my favorite coloring books:
- Like simple doodle designs? Try this one.
- A fan of owls (like my mom)? Go for this book.
- Love patterns? Try this one.
- Want to sample a few coloring pages for free? Print these and just go for it.
The right tools:
- Colored pencils – Their fine tips make it easy to stay in the lines for intricate designs – This is a good starter set.
- Gel pens are glittery, bright, and fun – and don't bleed through the paper (These are Emily's fave)
- Markers really make color pop, but you sometimes need to place a sheet of paper under your coloring page to avoid bleeding. These markers are an affordable way to see if you prefer ink to pencil. And these are the ultimate investment for the serious colorists only (but they last forever).
Ultimately it’s not about what you color, what you color with or even what your picture looks like when you’re done.
We encourage kids to color to inspire their creativity, to have fun, and relax)—all things I’m happy to keep working on as an adult so I’ll gladly keep coloring on too.
Now to popularize the afternoon nap and I’m set!
Ready to color? Get started with my favorite book!
Leslie Murphy is a licensed acupuncturist who is passionate about helping others live healthier, stress less and become free of pain. Follow her at Balanced Health Acupuncture.