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  • Wolols - Maria Vergara

Benefits of colouring for adults

One of the things that convinced me about the benefits of colouring for adults is an article I read by an art therapist and psychotherapist who saw first-hand the changes in her clients when she put colouring books in her waiting room. She echoes many who believe in the power of colouring. The following are some of the benefits I feel are most noteworthy to mention:

• Modern self-help tool

When testing to measure improvements in psychological outcomes, a study concluded that "Coloring participants showed significantly lower levels of depressive symptoms and anxiety after the intervention... We conclude that daily colouring can improve some negative psychological outcomes and that it may provide an effective, inexpensive, and highly accessible self-help tool."

• Coloring helps maintain focus

Colouring is becoming accepted within a University setting as a tool for students to maintain focus. Theresa Citerella, a student studying art therapy at Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass., said that “A lot of my fellow graduate classmates bring these colouring books into the classroom setting as a tool to focus more on lectures.” She explained that more professors are beginning to welcome this behaviour. “For my internship, I find the clients who are fidgeting and cannot sit still ask for colouring-in books to concentrate on group discussions.”

• Coloring can help you sleep

It's well documented that using light-emitting electronic devices before going to bed delays the circadian clock. It suppresses melatonin levels (a sleep-promoting hormone) which results in more time required before falling asleep. Most of us are guilty of using such devices in the evening, so replacing devices with colouring books can be beneficial if sleeping is an issue.

· An alternative to yoga or meditation

A psychologist in Melbourne, Australia, is an avid fan of colouring as an effective tool for helping his clients relax and unwind. Dr Stan Rodski shared that he was having trouble getting his clients to use traditional techniques such as breathing, yoga, and meditation to help control anxiety. When he saw how quickly and easily colouring relaxed children, he decided to research it as an alternative for adults and found it helped them achieve the same deep sense of relaxation. Dr Rodski maintains that "five minutes of colouring a day is enough to get the same effect on the brain as about an hour worth of conventional meditation."

"If you look at it from the brain perspective when they started colouring, their brain recognised it as a happy place, and it helped them to feel quite youthful again," Dr Rodski said.

"It’s a carefree happiness because with that childhood memory comes to a sense of no responsibility, accountability or pressure, and the brain reacts to that."

He's so convinced of the little-known power of colouring that he even created his own range of colouring meditation books.

How does colouring help people relax?

When people are stressed or anxious, they can find it challenging to stay focused in the present moment. That essentially means their thoughts are centred around their worries or to-do list instead of what's happening right in front of them at the given time.

The act of colouring is likened to meditation or mindfulness in that it gives people something else to focus their attention on. When the brain is focused on a simple activity that takes us outside of ourselves and with a predictable outcome, it's able to relax.

Dr Joel Pearson, a brain scientist at the University of New South Wales in Australia, explains: "You have to look at the shape and size, you have to look at the edges, and you have to pick a colour. It should occupy the same parts of the brain that stops any anxiety-related mental imagery from happening as well. Anything that helps you control your attention is going to help.”

So grab a colouring book and happy colouring!


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