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Family Files

Coloring - It's not just for kids!

colored pencils and book

Another great suggestion for practicing mindfulness for this Mindful May is coloring! Well-known psychiatrist Carl Jung first recognized the benefits of coloring back in the early 20th century. Recently we have seen a rise in the availability and popularity of coloring books for adults. Adult coloring books often have more intricate patterns and designs where drawing skills aren’t necessary. However, it doesn't matter what you are coloring - whether it is a children’s or adult’s coloring book – it can be beneficial.

Coloring engages both sides of our brains. It requires logic and spatial reasoning in order to make sense of the picture (layout, objects, and patterns) as well as creativity to mix and match colors. Coloring can calm down the part of the brain that stimulates the amygdala (fear/stress response) while engaging the creative part of the brain. This also engages the cerebral cortex for vision and fine motor skills.

Coloring can be an inexpensive, fun, and relaxing way to de-stress and a great way to spend some time with your kids, grandkids, and friends. All you need is access to coloring sheets and some crayons, colored pencils or fine tipped markers. There are many health and brain benefits to coloring for both kids and adults.

Benefits for Kids:

  • Develops mental and motor skills
  • Encourages creativity
  • Teaches color recognition
  • Provides stress relief
  • Relaxes
  • Helps express feelings
  • Relieves boredom

Benefits for Adults:

  • Socialization! This activity can be an easy way to engage kids into talking while you both are sitting at a table coloring.
  • Stimulates the brain in a fun and engaging way.
  • Stress relief – coloring provides relaxation to our amygdala, the part of our brain affected by stress.
  • Increases focus and creativity – short coloring sessions can help improve focus and spark creativity.
  • Releases tension and stabilizes mood.
  • Helps express feelings in a healthy way.
  • Exercises fine motor skills.
  • Acts as a mindfulness practice – it allows the brain to switch off from other thoughts and focus on the task at hand.
  • Helps you sleep – coloring may help you wind down from a stressful day and to settle in for a good night’s sleep.

If you enjoy coloring, I hope you continue to enjoy it! If you haven't tried it in years or even decades, I suggest you give it a try. It will be great for your brain!

Original post written by Chelsey Byers and published in Family Files, March 2016