Why Should You Care About National Coloring Book Day?! September 14
In the midst of the never-ending streams of distressing news, it’s hard to say with a straight face that something as trivial as coloring should be important to you. Indeed, you might ask why we are celebrating an event as inconsequential as National Coloring Book Day when there are so many more noble endeavors that deserve to be elevated?!
The answer: Because coloring is, across the board, one of the most effective ways that we have encountered in our many years as therapists to manage stress. This is the case regardless of a person’s artistic skill (or lack thereof), their creativity (or lack thereof), and their interest in doing arts and crafts (again–or lack thereof).
Johanna Basford’s Enchanted Forest
Of course, coloring books have been around for years—most of us grew up with them and so, not surprisingly, most of us associate them with childhood. The benefits for adults weren’t really “discovered” until much more recently when, during an NPR show in 2015 on stress management for the working well, Joanna Bassford, the illustrator of The Enchanted Forrest Coloring Book, talked about the benefits of coloring for adults as a way to cope with stress and anxiety.
You may remember the coloring book craze that ensued. Since then, although the popularity of coloring books has died down a bit, the need for them hasn’t. In fact, with the strange and unusual stressors that COVID has presented, coloring is more necessary than ever.
Coloring is like meditating. Coloring creates many of the same effects as meditating: reduced heart rate, lowered blood pressure, and activation of the relaxation response. And because meditating can be challenging for many people (they can’t quiet their minds, they get restless, they don’t feel like they can take time away from their responsibilities), it is a really effective way to create that meditative state without the constraints that meditating can sometimes pose.
In addition, one of the appealing things about coloring, especially for the “doers” in the world, is that you can do it while you’re doing other things—sitting in a meeting, in class, on the ubiquitous zoom calls. It can even help you focus better because it has a way of sharpening your attention and making you more present to what you are engaged in.
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