Adult coloring books began topping the bestseller charts around 2015. With other intricate and complicated art projects becoming a popular trend for adults that are looking to de-stress, these activities are also finding their way into therapy and stress management sessions.
Through what’s known as art therapy, you’re able to work through your tension and anxieties of the day by diverting your attention with a low priority task that helps you relax and disconnect.
Helpful therapy looks different for each person. While some people need a dedicated routine to keep them on track for the day, others need to be persuaded to open up time slots for themselves. If you’re looking for mental health assistance, start with a visit to https://www.mytherapist.com/advice/ for resources that can direct you to a trained, experienced individual. When it comes to art therapy and other stress management practices, a therapist can provide advice and guidance to achieve the best results.
Coloring as an adult is an activity that actively draws your attention away from other inner thoughts. When prone to overthinking or dwelling on challenges, a mental health professional may suggest an attention diversion activity. For panic attacks, it may be a form of grounding or centralizing yourself. With depression lows, it can be a small, pre-made task list to get the daily basics completed. In stressed individuals, an adult coloring book can derail your mind from an overwhelming runaway train of thought.
Low Stakes Activity
There are no rules for adult coloring books. Stray outside the lines, take a permanent marker to the whole page, or only color your favorite section and then turn the page. While your typical routine may have guidelines and requirements that need to be met on a daily basis, this is the one time in your day where you’re allowed to freestyle entirely.
An individual with anxiety may become overwhelmed with intricate designs and many color options – this is why it’s important to start slow, creating a truly low-stakes activity. Instead of the 300-color crayon box and a 100-page book, start with a 10-color pencil pack and a printed page. Once you’ve become comfortable with making random decisions and letting your choices come naturally, you can steadily start to give yourself more options.
The act of coloring has been a relaxing activity since childhood – it tends to become a forgotten pastime because of the fact that aging brings new responsibilities and a busier schedule that leaves less room for all of our childhood interests. However, similar to reading or playing video games – childhood interests that are often more likely to be kept – there’s little to no pressure to be “productive” when coloring. Instead, you can do as little or as much as you’d like, with your only priority to be enjoyment.
Adult coloring books put you in a state of focus similar to meditation and yoga. These aren’t just tasks that are meant to keep you busy; instead, your mind shifts into a state of ‘flow’. Researchers consider a state of flow to mean an “optimal states of consciousness,” where you’re “zoned in” on your task that results in a higher performance output. A Time journalist had a quality description of the phenomenon:
“The state emerges from a radical alteration in normal brain function. In flow, as attention heightens, the slower and energy-expensive extrinsic system (conscious processing) is swapped out for the far faster and more efficient processing of the subconscious, intrinsic system.”
While at first it may seem a little silly, if you’re not used to relaxing this way, eventually you’ll fall into that ‘flow’ state. Stress and anxiety reducing habits take time to get used to, since you’re actively working against your mind’s attempt to complicate things by performing a calming task. However, as you continue to practice adjusting your perspective and spend a little longer each time on an intricate adult coloring book, you’ll begin to slip into that relaxing, low-effort phase and your subconscious will kick in with the performance.
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with MyTherapist.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional.