The benefits of releasing your inner child.

img_0001At the beginning of the year, I found a passion in adult coloring. I admit there are people who laugh at me when they see me coloring or when I tell them I color. Those people simply can’t fathom a childish hobby having any adult health benefits. I color to reduce stress, which actually works. Coloring also has some other side benefits I never imagined.

Some people think that coloring would actually be stressful. You have to make sure to color inside the lines, pick the correct color, and the picture is finished perfectly.

If I was making a sign to show in public or attempting to impress Picasso, those things would cause me considerable stress. When I’m coloring in my personal coloring book, I have no deadline. I don’t want to impress anyone and I don’t have to adhere to specific coloring guidelines. In this activity, I’m the boss. Who cares if I make a mistake or use an unconventional color?

Sure, there are few people in the world wired like me. My brain goes 100 MPH thinking of at least three different things at the same time (six at most)and I have a penchant for reading a good book while watching TV simultaneously.

I can read your mind, dear reader. You’re thinking that such things are impossible. One person’s impossible is another woman’s daily life.

As you can imagine, meditation is impossible. I’ve tried it and all I showed for it was frustration. In a surprising twist, the act of coloring can cause a meditative state. It helps clear the mind. Being an active person, I should have known my type of meditation would require me being involved in an activity.

Coloring can also help people who suffer from anxiety.

Just like meditation, coloring also allows us to switch off our brains from other thoughts and focus only on the moment, helping to alleviate free-floating anxiety. It can be particularly effective for people who aren’t comfortable with more creatively expressive forms of art, says Berberian, “My experience has been that those participants who are more guarded find a lot of tranquility in coloring an image. It feels safer and it creates containment around their process,” she adds.

It can also be a solace for people grieving a loved one.

For Ledger and others, coloring books offer a real elixir, a way of getting past hurdles — mental, physical or both — that can’t be replicated by more-traditional approaches.

Joanne Schwandes, a 67-year-old Silver Spring resident, says that coloring books have boosted her confidence in fine motor skills weakened by a tremor in her arm. A Virginia mother says that coloring has helped her stay calm in the face of her son’s violent behavior. On one Facebook coloring group, members share their creations along with their stories of healing — using coloring as a tool against self-harming or as a way to manage the effects of physical illness or fend off depression and other difficulties.

img_0002Adult coloring books are considered a fad just like the many different diets that come and go. People roll their eyes and say it’ll never work when they’re really secretly trying it out in the privacy of their home.

Fads, or bandwagons, generally have negative connotations, an implication that a person should be ashamed to try the fad. When it comes to adult coloring books, the first reaction I get from most people is Coloring is for kids.  Young Adult books are considered for teenagers, but I see a number of adults unabashedly reading them (including me). What’s their point other than their rigid need to label activities and limit their imaginations?

So coloring books are not for everyone. Good thing there are other childish pastimes that are mentally beneficial for adults. Happy playing!

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