Coloring as therapy has grown exponentially in the last few years. Coloring books, pencils, markers, and coloring apps are some of the best selling products currently. Everyone is jumping on the coloring bandwagon, but what are the benefits of coloring on mental health? Depending on whether you are an adult or a child they can differ slightly, but some of the benefits exist for both groups.
Let’s start with the benefits for children and coloring. They are not all mental health related, but they all build skills and provide tools that help with both mental health and learning. Ten benefits for kids are: Improving motor skills, prepares them for school and school work environment, stimulates creativity, contributes to better handwriting, color awareness and the nuances of colors, improved focus and hand to eye coordination, structure and spacial awareness, improved confidence and self-esteem, and stress relief. Coloring with kids offers a wide range of learning, motor, and mental health benefits. Coloring can be used to help children learn focus and to calm down when frustrated. Coloring can be used to express feelings. Remember it doesn’t have to stay in any lines or shapes to be helpful. The actual act of coloring in any manner – even angry coloring – is beneficial.
For adults, the benefits are mainly related to mental health, but even adults, especially the elderly can benefit from the motor skills benefits of coloring. Some of the benefits for adults and coloring are: Coloring produces a meditative state in the brain, Stress and anxiety levels can be reduced, Negative thoughts are replaced as you create positivity through coloring, being focused on the present activity creates mindfulness, if you color without an app unplugging from technology allows for less screen dependence, you don’t have to be an artist to color, it expands the creative parts of your brain, and it is something you can do anywhere. Since it is portable you can have it with you where ever you are and whenever emotional issues arise. You can use it to gain mindfulness. Meditation mantras or affirmations in your mind while coloring boost positivity and increase the meditative state.
Coloring is not about being perfect, always inside the lines, or needing to look a specific way. Coloring can be completely abstract. It can be messy. It can be quick or very slow. It can be whatever you need and however you want to do it. The focus should be just that – focus. The coloring allows you to focus – your mind, your emotions, your energy in a specific area instead of having these things be out of control. Transfer thoughts, emotions, energy through your arm into your hands and onto the coloring surface. Visualize this happening as you color. If your thoughts and emotions wander, notice it, let it go, and bring your focus back to the coloring. Mindful meditation through art therapy with coloring.
Here are a few coloring books to get you started:
Until next time,
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