In the last few years, coloring books for stress reduction have become all the rage. Not only are adult coloring books flying off the shelves, but many psychologists and therapists now prescribe them to their patients for various emotional and mental health issues like stress, anxiety, depression, and anger management. Boredom, lack of structure, and stress can trigger these issues, so coloring is a healthy activity to turn to.
Although a lot of attention has been given to how adults can relax by coloring, let’s not forget that our children can also hugely benefit from mindful coloring books. As a therapeutic activity, coloring can make our kids feel calmer, happier, less anxious, and more focused.
Ways Coloring Helps Reduce Stress
There are a number of fascinating reasons how coloring can bring a sense of calm and happiness to our kids.
Coloring has been shown to calm the amygdala, the part of the brain that controls the fear and stress response. Less activity in the amygdala can reduce the effect of negative emotions and allow our children to let go of their problems for awhile. A 2005 study looked at the influence of art on negative moods in college students. It found that coloring pre-drawn patterns, rather than drawing freely, significantly reduced signs of stress and depression. Then in 2007 a study based on a literature review of neurological evidence and activities found that purposeful and meaningful activities like drawing, arts and crafts, and music can counter the effects of stress-related diseases. In addition, one’s breathing pattern changes while coloring. Breathing will slow down and deepen, allowing more oxygen to be taken in. This leads to an overall feeling of calmness and a reduction of stress.
Removes Excess Stimulation
One of the huge benefits of coloring books is that they are not electronic. When our children spend time coloring on paper, they are taking a much needed break of all the excessive stimulation from their gadgets that have been shown to increase stress and tension. Encourage your kids to shut off the television, cell phones, video games, iPads, computers, etc. to spend some time coloring mindfully. Silence is the best for true stress relief while coloring, but soft background music is okay.
When we do something artistic like coloring, we can become so absorbed in our work that we achieve a state of flow. This is the sense of being completely engaged in an activity to the point of being in a near meditative state. When we are in a state of flow, we forgot about all of our thoughts and lose track of time. This can be beneficial to calming our nerves and reducing stress.
According to neuropsychologist Dr. Stan Rodski, coloring causes a relaxed mindset similar to what we experience from meditation. Coloring allows us to switch off our brains from other thoughts and focus on what is happening in the here and now. How does this happen? When we color, we get lost in the patterns and images that we are bringing to life with vivid colors. It takes a great deal of concentration to color many of those pictures, so we fall into almost a trance that allows us to essentially meditate without necessarily realizing it. The coloring guides our attention from all of our worries and mental chatter to the present moment. Since getting our kids to sit down and meditate may be challenging, coloring can be a much easier path to reaching that meditative state.
Our lives are so hectic, and our kids are not immune to the stress that all of this busyness causes. Coloring can be a wonderful anecdote to all the rushing because it will help them to slow down.
Coloring also provides a healthy distraction from our worries. Dr. Joel Pearson, a brain scientist at the University of New South Wales in Australia believes that concentrating on coloring an image can replace negative thoughts and images with pleasant ones. Our kids will be so engaged in looking at the shapes, sizes, edges, and colors that they won’t have time to be stressed. Basically, our worries fade away because it is almost impossible to keep ruminating about our problems when we are focused on doing something creative like coloring.
Other Benefits Of Mindful Coloring Books
Mindful coloring books also offer the following important benefits to our children:
- Improve sleep. Use coloring books as an alternative to electronics at night to help our kids relax before bedtime. All of that blue light from electronics can disturb melatonin levels, which can prevent our kids from getting a good night’s sleep. And poor sleep can trigger more anxiety.
- Convenient. You can bring a coloring book and crayons or pencils with you anywhere you go. It’s a great stress busting tool when you are sitting in the doctor’s office or traveling. And it’s not messy!
- Solitary or social. Coloring can be done in a group with friends or alone, so kids can choose how they want to enjoy this activity.
- Boost the mind. Coloring is known to enhance mental clarity, attention span, creativity, and flexible thinking.
- Pressure-free. Coloring allows our kids to be artistic without feeling pressure to create something completely on their own. It is also predictable and simple. It is hard to mess up coloring!
Types of Mindful Coloring Books
Probably the most popular type of coloring books for mindfulness contain mandalas. They are circular designs with concentric shapes that have a universal spiritual significance. They originated in India and mean “sacred circles” in Sanskrit. Buddhist temples, Muslim mosques, and Christian cathedrals all use mandalas in their architecture for symbolism. Psychologist Carl Jung had his patients coloring mandalas 100 years ago as a tool for relaxation and self-discovery.
One of my favorite types of coloring activities are images of nature. Amazingly, just looking at pictures of nature scenes can make us feel similar to actually spending time in nature, and we know that being outdoors can improve our health by reducing feelings of stress, anxiety, and anger. Mindware’s Wild Wonders Color By Number Book Sets are the perfect anecdote to a stressful day. Both you and your kids will love these soothing coloring books featuring original, hand-drawn illustrations and MindWare’s exclusive Color by Number system. As you follow the color codes using their corresponding colored pencils, you will enjoy seeing how some animals have developed an extraordinary ability to blend into their environment. An unnumbered version of each design is also included so your kids can get extra creative. Mindware also has tons of other mindful coloring books to choose from including mandalas, optical illusions, landscapes, flowers, and mosaics.
Does your family enjoy mindful coloring to relax?
*This post was sponsored by Mindware in the form of free products.