Today, August 2nd, is National Coloring Book Day! Some of you may have tried adult coloring books because of the hype or because you passed a pretty end display of coloring books at Target and couldn’t resist tossing one in your cart. Or, perhaps, you have still yet to jump on the bandwagon. Whether or not you have joined the craze, research shows that picking up a coloring book for a few minutes a day can have serious physical, mental and emotional benefits!
Before you continue, find out what your coloring habits say about your personality with this Buzzfeed quiz!
Coloring pre-drawn images decreased anxiety levels (plus, depression and tension levels) of college students. This study suggests that coloring existing patterns is more effective in managing mood than coloring or drawing freely.
When you color, you are decreasing the activity in your amygdala, according to pscyhologist Gloria Martinez Ayala. This is the part of your brain involved in regulating your emotions–including stress! Therefore, calm down and turn off that part of the brain that is constantly running down your to-do list.
Sleep-quality and technology-use have been of great interest to scientists as modern society has grown more attached to electronics. College students that used their computers to surf the internet before bed had poorer self-reported sleep. Televisions in the bedroom and cell phone use before bed have been found to increase daytime sleepiness. This evidence suggests that turning off the electronics and picking up a coloring book before bed can increase your sleep quality.
Improve your mood
Researchers found that coloring can elevate your mood no matter the intention behind the activity. College students were randomly assigned to either express positivity, express their current mood or simply color. While the positivity group had the greatest mood elevation scores, all three groups saw increases. So next time you are feeling down, pick up those crayons!
Feel less fatigued
A study of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy found that art therapy decreased fatigue levels. In addition, depression scores declined after the art therapy sessions. Why? They are not quite sure. Perhaps it is because coloring allows you to escape from reality, even if for a short period of time. Craig Travis, psychologist and director of behavioral sciences at Ohio Health Grant Medical Education, says “[coloring] gets you out of your adult mind, where you know nothing but problems.”
Cope with trauma
Researchers have found that coloring helped soldiers suffering from PTSD cope with trauma. Former Air Force Staff Sgt. Amber Cororan stated, “I found that my mind went blank as I colored, any anxiety or ruminating thoughts I had before I sat down were diminished as I chose colors and began my project.”
Exercise Your Brain
Turns out that you don’t have to do the impossible NY Times Sundary crossword puzzles or read Shakespeare to keep your mind fresh. Instead, get artsy! Studies have found art to strengthen problem-solving abilities. Further research focusing on coloring books still needs to be performed, but engage that noggin and get coloring.
Now are you convinced that adult coloring books are more than a brief fad? I’ve given you 7 reasons to return to one of the activities you enjoyed as a kid. So, now turn off that computer and pick up a coloring book!
Until next time,