Everywhere I look I see stories about people coloring. And everywhere I shop I see racks and racks of very inviting coloring books for sale. Its been deemed the adult coloring book craze, well documented on Facebook, Pinterest, Huffington Post even the New York Times – and it’s driving millions of dollars in book sales.
I must admit, I have purchased more than my fair share and I want more every time I see them. My colored pencils are sharpened and ready and there aren’t enough hours in the day for how much I want to color!
Why? What is it about coloring books and why are so many adults coloring?
Relax and de-stress
A new coloring book and package of crayons reminds us of simpler days. Just the thought of coloring brings back the smell and excitement of a new box of crayons. For kids and adults alike, time spent coloring is known to reduce anxiety and stress levels. The structured repetitive activity is even thought to have meditative qualities and long-term benefits. Coloring engages our hands and minds, develops focus and allows us to switch off our brains and focus on the moment – which we can all benefit from.
It’s about creativity
Filling pre-drawn shapes and patterns with color may not make you the next Steve Jobs or Picasso, but it gets your creative juices flowing by using your right brain. The right side of you is built for creative and innovative thinking. It’s where ideas are born, imaginations run wild and the stuff of genius lies. But if you’re like most people, you live and work in a left-brain world and career. The right side of you may be shut down stifled, even dried up. And scientists tell us, when it comes to the brain – it’s use it or lose it. Coloring is less stressful than facing a blank sheet of paper, but once you get started, the right side of you wants more.
Living a creative life
Once you’ve tasted the joy of creating, give yourself permission to take the next step. Don’t quit your day job or head to an artist’s commune. It’s about breaking out of your box and adopting a more creative lifestyle. In her book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, author Elizabeth Gilbert explains that living creatively is not about pursing a life devoted exclusively to the arts, but living a life of curiosity beyond fear. She explains creative living as: “A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner – continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you – is a fine art, in and of itself.”
How do you live a more creative life? A friend of mine recently became a master beekeeper. Bees had always been a curiosity and hobby but she decided to take it a step further because she liked it, because it made her happy. As an empty nester, I’ve moved my drawing board into a recently vacated bedroom with the hope that this dedicated spot will encourage more time spent drawing. Living a more creative life is a life lived by engaging the right side of your brain in whatever you do!
Kids need it too
Hundreds of thousands, even millions of adults have gotten a taste of how good it feels to get in touch with their creative side by coloring, but what about our kids? They spend 6 or 8 hours a day in school focused on reading, writing and arithmetic. Add 1 to 3 hours of homework, maybe a little screen time and hopefully some physical activity. Eat. Sleep. Rinse and repeat. Where’s their coloring time? When do they get to create, play, build things, use their imaginations? Half of their brain is built to create, to think outside the box, but if it’s not happening at school when is it happening?
Our kids need to move around. Make stuff. Dream. Imagine. Get lost in possibilities. They need dance, music, theater, art class in school and after school. They need ways to be creative when and wherever they can get it. Now that we as adults know how good it feels to open up the creative side of ourselves, why wouldn’t we move heaven and earth so every child has the same opportunity?
Take the plunge, if you haven’t already. Buy a coloring book and sharpen your colored pencils. Buy some colored pencils. Relax. De-stress. Get lost in the moment and notice how good it feels. Time spent coloring is a safe easy way to get your creative juices flowing and who knows where it will go from there!