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10 benefits of coloring for adults

adult coloring
Coloring is good for the adult brain

Coloring is increasingly becoming a favorite pastime of adults and has now become a popular category of coloring book on Amazon as well. It can be a fun and easy hobby for adults to pass the time, but did you know that it can have both mental and physical benefits? 

Below are 10 benefits that may have you reaching for that coloring book and getting your coloring pencils out. 

Coloring Reduces Stress

Most adults have multiple things they stress about on a day-to-day basis. Coloring won’t necessarily take away that stress, but it can provide a temporary break from it. 

When you are coloring, you are focusing on what is being colored which takes away attention from the things that are stressing you out. Essentially, focusing on a single task, particularly one that is not overly difficult, can allow your brain to relax and reduce some stress. In this sense, is similar to meditation in that it allows the individual to shift their focus to one activity, helping to reduce or rid the thoughts of a restless mind. And hey, and coloring baby dinosaurs can really be stress-reducing.

Coloring Reduces Anxiety 

Anxiety is the body’s response to stress, which can induce feelings of fear, concern, panic, and so on. Stress and anxiety go hand-in-hand, therefore the effects coloring can have on stress can be applied to anxiety. 

Anxiety is also something many adults face daily. Like with stress, coloring can help relax the brain by shifting focus to what is being colored and taking attention away from anxious thoughts and feelings.

Coloring is also a relatively simple and low-risk activity. You have the choice of which colors to use if you want your coloring to be neat or messy, and even if you color out outside of the line, there are no real consequences. This can help reduce the anxiety that you can feel towards the act of coloring itself. 

It Exercises the Brain

In addition to being relaxing, coloring can also serve as a brain exercise. Coloring activates both hemispheres of the brain that are responsible for creativity and logic. More specifically, it activates both sides of the brain’s cerebral cortex – a system that plays a role in attention, awareness, perception, thought, memory, language, and consciousness. 

When you are coloring, you are using logic for aspects such as remaining inside the lines or choosing the color to use based on the information given in the picture (e.g. choosing to use green to color in a tree). When you are choosing to pair colors, blend colors, or take creative liberties (e.g. adding stars into a picture of the sky), you are using the creative part of your brain. 

Improves Mental Strength

Coloring can help improve mental strength. As mentioned above, coloring activates the two sides of the brain involved with logic and creativity and requires them to communicate. 

Coloring also “opens up the frontal lobe of the brain- the home of organizing and problem solving – and focuses the mind,” says Leslie Marshall, a clinical counselor. 

This means that by coloring, you are actively using and exercising different parts of your brain, which can help improve mental strength and endurance. 

Encourages Creativity

As mentioned above, coloring activates a part of your brain which is involved in creativity. Creativity can be described as the tendency to use, generate, or recognize unique ways to create works of art, solve problems, communicate with others, entertain ourselves, entertain others, and so on.

Coloring provides a space that fosters and encourages creativity. You can choose what colors to use, you can choose to print off a coloring page from the internet or create one yourself, you can choose to blend colors or add something into the background, and so on. There is essentially no right or wrong way to color, which promotes creative liberty.

Improves Sleep

A less obvious benefit of coloring is that it can indirectly help improve sleep. Many of us will turn to our electronic devices for entertainment before bed. However, the blue light emitted from devices like phones, computers, and television can reduce the secretion of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep cycle. 

To reduce exposure to blue light before bedtime, activities, like coloring, can be done instead. Coloring can also reduce stress and anxiety, which can help you relax before going to sleep.

Promotes Social Interaction

Another less obvious benefit of coloring its social aspects. Coloring has become a popular activity around the world, resulting in the creation of virtual and in-person coloring groups, chapters, and clubs.

Generally speaking, these groups provide a space where avid “colorers” can come together to share a common interest. This promotes social interaction which can result in new friendships and help reduce social anxiety. Additionally, social media broadens the network of people that can be reached that share a love for coloring. 

Self-soothing

Coloring can help you to self soothe. The potential stress and anxiety-reducing qualities of coloring can help improve control over the body’s stress activation system. 

Stress and anxiety are huge players in many of our lives. Coloring can be used to help reduce negative feelings, which can calm a restless mind and allow it to better cope with or handle emotional turmoil or trauma. 

Coloring should not serve as the only aspect involved in mental or physical wellness, but it has the potential to serve as a self-soothing technique that can help replace patterns of negative thinking. 

Gives You a Break

Life can sometimes be difficult for all of us, so what better to do than take a temporary mental break from it all. For many, coloring serves that purpose. It allows you to take time out of your day to focus on simple and entertaining, to temporarily disconnect from stress and anxiety, and do something that promotes mindfulness. 

Easy and Fun 

Ultimately, one of the reasons adults may choose to color is simply that it is fun. There are endless possibilities when coloring. You can use color or multiple colors, mix and match, color in a mandala, or a picture of your favorite animal, color by numbers, or freestyle. The choices are endless and there are no real stakes involved. 

Everyone can use a little fun break from time to time, so why not pick up that pencil, pen, marker, or crayon and get to coloring?