Remember when your mom or grandmother use to color with you? Maybe you’ve even shared those moments with your own children or if you’re as old as I am, your grandchildren. And every time I hoped the moment could last forever.
I still love to crack open a brand new coloring book, dump a box of crayons on the table, and enjoy that feeling that life couldn’t get any better.
Not everyone thinks coloring is as fun or relaxing as I do. Some researchers say this is because, as adults, we choose hobbies that we either enjoyed when we were children (like coloring) or are similar to the hobbies we enjoyed as children. I loved to draw, color, build, and race matchbox cars. Along with lots of reading, all of these activities allowed me to enjoy incredible adventures; then and now.
A study done in 2005 examined a 1997 study that looked at a method of decreasing anxiety called “coloring therapy” (not art therapy). The idea is that “when individuals color complex geometric forms, they are provided an opportunity to suspend their inner dialogue and to deeply engage in an activity that removes them from the flow of negative thoughts and emotions that can sometimes dominate their lives.”
Sounds like a form of mediation to me. And that’s exactly what I found in other studies and articles on the subject of coloring.
Cognitive neuroscientist, Dr Stan Rodski, whose work focuses on issues of stress and how we can best deal with it, says, “We now have technology that can measure brainwaves and heart rhythms that allows us to examine the impact certain things that you do have on the brain and its reactions. The most amazing things occurred—we started seeing changes in heart rate, changes in brainwaves.”
Psychologist Gloria Martinez Ayala says that coloring calms the amygdala, the part of our brain that controls emotions and stress reactions. That means when we color we stop paying attention to the seemingly endless bombardment of media and headlines and give ourselves permission to relax.
There are other benefits to coloring. Some are scientifically proven and others are anecdotal results of experimental research. The benefits to coloring include:
- Coloring helps spark creativity.
- Coloring has a positive impact on our wellbeing and overall health.
- Coloring boosts memory.
- Coloring increases our ability to focus.
You can purchase coloring books online and in local stores. You can also search the internet for free coloring pages or download one of the collections we put together from various sites. We’ve included three free coloring pages below. Additional collections are available in our resource section. No matter how you do it print a page, grab a box of crayons, and spend a little time coloring.
Gloria's career as an independent nonprofit consultant, trainer, and writer spans over 30 years giving her lots to talk about. She has a deep passion for sustainability, both environmentally and organizationally. Enjoy her perspectives on community, development, and tales from her virtual world travels.