Coloring Books, Grown-Up Style: the Trend and Brain Benefits

Special thanks to Sarah Stokes, the author of this article, originally published in the April 2016 Queen of the Castle Magazine.

If you’ve walked into a bookstore in the past year, you’ve
probably run right into the displays of adult coloring books. They
are everywhere! The swirls, mandalas, paisleys and flowers are
just waiting for you, the black and white designs next to the
boxes of tempting vibrant-colored pencil options.
Growing up, we knew coloring was a great activity as we learned
to choose colors and create a finished product that was sure to
have mom grab a magnet for the fridge. We learned to move from
scribbling to coloring inside the lines. We could gaze lovingly at
our favorite cartoon characters, brought to life by our crayons
and sign our names to the pages. Now, as grown women, we
are using colored pencils and markers to design beautiful pages.
Coloring books are cool again.

Here’s what some of our readers said about adult coloring books:
“So relaxing, and I wish we would have had these available as
kids!” – Nikki Chetwood
“It helps to color when you’re bored, stressed, have a headache,
decompress from a long day. I would recommend to anyone.” —
“[It] brings peace and solitude after a long and rough day.” —

But what are the benefits behind the books? We went in search
of answers from brain expert, Sandra Sunquist Stanton, author
of “Max Your Mind: An Owner’s Guide to Your Strong Brain.”
Sandra referenced the constant state of “go go go” in our lives
and said coloring can slow us down, almost like a mindful
meditation. “It captures the focus of many parts of the brain
and keeps them busy creating beautiful pictures that ‘stay done’
unlike most household tasks.”

Sandra said these are some other benefits for your brain when
you’re coloring:
• Repetitive motion is soothing for the brain, as in knitting,
crocheting, sewing, rocking, and walking.
• Using our senses activates the parts of the brain where they’re
processed. Creating the pages triggers the kinesthetic sense as
well as the visual.
• What fun for the right brain to choose color and design for the
over-all picture—unlike the old prescribed colors in paint by
number projects!
• The left brain works to create visually pleasing balance,
sequence and detail.
• It’s a perfect self-soothing activity to help us shift from the
amygdala’s worry, planning and regret to the prefrontal
cortex’s positive focus.
• Occupational therapists and psychologists have prescribed
them for people with stress disorders, anxiety, anger
management issues and substance abuse issues.
• Coloring pages are a treatment modality accessible to
anyone—without a prescription, huge expense for equipment
or need for an appointment with someone else. They sit on
your table ready when you are. How cool is that?

Several organizations are hosting coloring groups, to add a
social element to the stress-busting activity. Personal growth
centers like Silver Springs Wellness in Whitehall and Equine
Inspired Wellness in Cadott are hosting coloring events and
senior care non-profits like American Lutheran Communities
in Menomonie, Willowbrook Assisted Living in Eau Claire and
Pioneer Nursing Home in Prairie Farm are welcoming seniors
from the community into their buildings to enjoy the brain boost
along with a cup of coffee.

“We do activities all the time with our residents, but realized
seniors who live at home may not have access to the same
opportunities, so we started hosting a free public coloring
group for people who live in our area,” Angela Greger, the
administrator of Pioneer Nursing Home, said. “It’s a wonderful
thing to see a group of people enjoying themselves and tapping
into their young hearts.”

No matter why you color, just go for it! Find this article on
queenofthecastlemagazine.com for a selection of free printable
coloring pages and a listing of some area coloring groups.

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