Coloring isn’t just for kids – science says color your anxiety gone

Coloring isn't just for kids - science says color your anxiety gone
Coloring isn't just for kids - science says color your anxiety gone

Adult coloring is all the rage and an important self-care activity for several very important anxiety-management reasons, science confirms.

According to Rokelle Lerner, the senior clinical adviser at Eric Clapton’s treatment center, Crossroads Centre Antigua, and author of Daily Affirmations for Adult Children of Alcoholics, “The effect of coloring on the brain is amazing for relieving stress, which is key in the healing process of anyone suffering from addiction.”

Relieving stress is key for most of us, however, not everyone will find coloring engaging, or might feel silly buying an adult coloring book. One of my personal training clients felt very conflicted about her interest in coloring.

“I’ll feel silly; like I was back in kindgergarten or something.” That’s sort of the point, I explained. Coloring brings out the imaginative, childlike, creative self that is important to stay in touch with as we mature. Childlike wonder opens us up to the possibilities of life and ourselves. Expressing our imagination in a positive way helps dissolve the negative side of imagination, which is worry. Worry is a misuse of our imagination.

Lerner is the illustrator of Inkspirations for Recovery: A Coloring Companion that Celebrates and Supports Living One Day at a Time. Lerner is certain of the healing that is possible at the intersection of art and self-evolution, so she put together a list of ways coloring can be a powerful tool in the recovery process.

From stress and anxiety reduction to mindfulness and self-compassion, here are eight reasons the simple act of coloring should be a part of your recovery (or self-care) process:

  • Reduces anxiety: coloring can be absorbing and takes our anxious mind off anxious thoughts.
  • Mindful: Like meditation and yoga, coloring is a quiet, self-affirming activity, one that has the advantage of being less demanding than other mindfulness practices, without being passive.
  • Focus: Coloring improves our ability to concentrate and focus which is central in stress management.
  • Trains the brain: In working with the detailed drawings of adult coloring books and considering color palettes that are aesthetically pleasing, you activate the parts of your mind responsible for organization and problem-solving. This is very good for the brain.
  • Inner Child: Being playful and exploring our child-like selves is a natural state that some of us may have missed out on during childhood. And, even if you are already in touch with that part of yourself, coloring gives that energy a positive outlet.
  • Fosters Creativity: So many of us long to be more creative. Our lives are demanding. There are people to care for, jobs to do, bills to pay, our health to attend to. All the while, inside us, there is often a creative itch we can’t seem to scratch.
  • Creative mind: Coloring expands our creative mind.
  • An act of love: Taking time for ourselves and being proactive with anxiety and finding ways to reduce anxiety is a form of self love that helps us stay focused on what’s important, such as our physical and mental health.

An article in Collective Evolution confirms:

“When we’re in creative mode, we can become hyper-focused. As a result, we can enter a state called flow. Dopamine is the brain chemical that allows us to achieve this state. The lesson is this: take up a hobby or activity in which you actually create something tangible. Try something like arts, crafts, auto repair, drawing, photography, or something else that sounds interesting.”

Coloring, hobbies and creative activities are healthy escapes. Inviting healthy escapes into our lives gives those stressful and anxiety-ridden energies a good place to go instead of toward a destructive escape such as drugs, excessive television/internet viewing, pornography, gambling or compulsive shopping.

If you haven’t tried adult coloring, give it a chance. I was thoroughly impressed with how my breathing slowed and deepened and my focus stayed tuned to my ‘art.’

From an artistic perspective, for those of us who can’t even draw a distinguishable stick figure, the beautiful drawings are already in place – all we have to do is bring the color!

Coloring Pages for Adults lets you download a variety of fun and beautiful drawings. The only rule: don’t judge your work. Just have fun.

News: The Mind Aware Show, hosted by author, speaker, and radio host, Dana Wilde, has invited me to be an expert guest and interviewed on the show! This will be a recorded podcast so updates will follow. Fitness is really fun!

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Crystal Perry, MS, LMHC, LPC has been working in the clinical field for over a decade. She has helped to empower individuals to think critically and creatively to solve problems and help improve their lives. Perry has applied these clinical skills in multiple agencies with every population from infants to older adults. She has used these experience to be a state office expert mental health treatment. Her training in clinical practice and art therapy has afforded her the opportunity to understand all aspects of mental health and wellness.


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