How Adults Are Finding Relaxation through a Childhood Pastime

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or in a hobbit home, which is cool, totally, no judgement there) or without internet connection you may have noticed that coloring for adults has taken the world by storm. The trend is certainly a lucrative one; with such a wide range of coloring books and utensils there is surely something for everyone. However, whether you’re adding color to unique mandala or animal designs, or giving human anatomy or swear words their own unique hue- the activities all share one thing in common: stress relief.

Studies have shown that engaging in repetitive motion and focused activity such as coloring does something to our bodies and brains. Our brain waves slow down (similar to a meditative state) and we enter a state of relaxation. This is the basis for meditation: focus and relaxation. What’s inescapable is the mind body connection.

Here are a few ways to get the most out of your coloring experience, and maximize relaxation:

1. Take a Deep Breath…

Most of the time, breathing is a given (if you’re coloring while holding your breath, you’re doing it wrong). However, conscious breathing offers an opportunity to connect to self and to activate the parasympathetic nervous system; our body’s “calm down” switch. Try taking slow, purposeful inhalations and exhalations. The “count” isn’t super important, find what’s right for you. A good place to start is perhaps with a count of 4; which is referred to as the “yogic breath”. As you create color on the page, create calm within your body by returning to your breath.

2. Try Relaxing Music

Music can impact our moods. Research studies have shown that our very brain waves can change when exposed to different types of music. You may notice that there are certain types of music, songs, or artists who can always bring you up when you’re feeling down. Many of us also have “go-to” albums or playlists for our bad days which can help lift our spirits. Try maximizing relaxation during coloring by playing music which is your go-to feel good, music that helps your focus, or music you can “get lost” in. Pandora has a radio station titled “528 Hrz Radio” which is recommended for meditation and relaxation. The sounds and tones are top notch brain wave slower-downers.

3. Practice Gratitude

For the majority of the day, we are focused on what’s going on in front of us; the traffic, the assignment at work, what the kids need next. If not, our thoughts may drift from worries, things to get done, or the score of the game. How often, though, do we take a bit of time to focus on positive things in our lives that we feel grateful for? Practicing gratitude and using gratitude as a meditation focus (or daily journal focus) can positively impact our mood and our perspective. This is a simple yet profound practice which can help shift our negative thinking habits. While coloring in your latest masterpiece, try coming up with 3-4 things that you are grateful for; about the day, the month, or life in general. You can even try meditating on one particular item for a few moments, and move onto the next item when you switch colors.

However you choose to take part in this fun and relaxing trend, do so with intention. Whether your intention is simply to “turn off” and quiet your mind for a bit, or to use it as a way to focus on positive thoughts or feelings, get the most out of this time by setting it aside purposefully for yourself. Happy coloring!