You may have jokingly said, I’ll be in my fort coloring if you need me, but there’s an underlying truth to this joke: Sometimes you need to shut out the world to focus on you.
You’re a limited resource and unless you take time to renew yourself, you will quickly get burned out. It’s a lot of fun to color and just let go of all the every day things that are happening.
Coloring is a type of therapy. As such, it often gets confused with art therapy, which is a more involved process that depends on the relationship between a client and therapist.
However, coloring helps to reduce anxiety, provide focus, mental clarity, a break from negative thoughts and behaviors, provides an alternative method to meditation, improves reality orientation, foster self-awareness, explore feelings and a host of other benefits.
Stress and Anxiety
One of the most amazing aspects of coloring is that it drastically decreases stress and anxiety. For this reason, it can help with insomnia and post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD occurs when a person experiences triggers that can bring them back into reliving a traumatic event. From my own personal experience, coloring has helped reduce panic attacks and grounded me into knowing the things I have control over.
Coloring takes the focus off the amygdala, which is a part of the brain that’s responsible for fear. Because coloring allows for focus, it gets rid of other free-floating thoughts that tend to cause stress. In addition, coloring is relaxing, which produces the opposite effect of stress. For this reason, coloring can help with insomnia if done a few minutes before bedtime.
Alternative to Meditation
For people, like me, who can’t seem to get into meditation, coloring provides the same benefits. This is because coloring takes the focus off thoughts and provides mindfulness. This allows the brain a way to take a break, which is what meditation accomplishes. So it can be a great part of your morning or evening routine, to color for 10-20 minutes with active meditation.
Coloring helps to increase positivity by creating something truly individualistic. Despite coloring pages that are already designed with patterns and words too, people get to choose the colors, color intensity, and style of blending they want to use for their creations. Precise lines made from color pencils, markers and pens help to create order. All of this, together, promotes happiness and a sense of accomplishment. And adding your own personality to each page makes each coloring page a unique piece.
Coloring brings back happy emotions from a simpler time. Being a kid again helps to ease the tensions of daily responsibilities, and it helps people connect with their inner child. Often, current problems can be traced to the past. By including the inner child in coloring, people can reconnect with that child to begin healing. It’s the space where you can meet your younger self with more empathy and compassion.
The old adage, use it or lose it, is true for the brain. The less we use our brains, the more at-risk we are for Alzheimer’s and dementia. Coloring can help to prevent or delay the onset of dementia and other memory-loss issues. The more you use your brain, the longer it will remain in use.
Coloring helps to strengthen organizational and problem-solving skills because it utilizes the frontal lobe, which is the part of the brain that’s responsible for focus, concentration, creativity, and logic. This helps people to be more productive. It has been shown that use of color gets the creative juices flowing. This can help with writing and math.
It might just be true that all you really need to know you learned in kindergarten. You certainly weren’t that stressed in kindergarten. It’s important to note that you must allow yourself to be in the moment when coloring to enjoy its benefits. It won’t do you much good to color while secretly thinking about other things or feeling guilty that you’re not working.
It is important to balance your schedule between work and play or you will quickly find your inner child sabotaging your efforts. Even if you didn’t particularly enjoy coloring as a child, give it a go.