Yesterday, I was looking for information about Coloring Books in anticipation of “National Coloring Book Day” which is today, August 2. I found this article on the Huffpost blog by Dr. Nikki Martinez, Psy.D., LCPC entitled, “7 Reasons Adult Coloring Books Are Great for Your Mental, Emotional and Intellectual Health.” If you want to read the entire piece with all its footnotes and related links, you can read it here.
Dr. Martinez says coloring books are prescribed by many psychologists, therapists and occupational therapists, including herself, for various reasons. She actually prescribed coloring for herself after she had major surgery and was laid-up in bed for eight weeks. Now she pulls out her coloring books when she needs to shift her focus or practice her own stress reduction. Coloring books are useful in so many ways. Dr. Martinez lists 7 of them:
1. Coloring can be used as an alternative to meditation, as a means of relaxation, and as a calming tool. It can help an individual focus on what they are doing vs. focusing on intrusive and troubling thoughts.
2. It can help with many emotional and mental health issues such as boredom, lack of structure and stress. Dr. Mendez says, “The time and focus that adult coloring takes helps the individual remove the focus from the negative issues and habits, and focus them in a safe and productive way.”
3. They help patients with PTSD, anxiety and stress issues by calming down the part of the brain that controls the fight or flight response. Coloring helps turn down that response to give a patient much-needed rest and relaxation.
4. It reminds us of a simpler, easier and happier times of childhood. To tap into those times is cathartic and enjoyable.
5. Coloring has intellectual benefits, too. It uses parts of our brains that enhance focus and concentration. Deciding which colors to use to make the picture pretty activates those parts of the brain.
6. Coloring uses both sides of our brain. Dr. Martinez says, “When we are thinking about balance, color choices, applying colored pencil to paper, we are working on problem solving and fine motor skills.” Coloring can be used to retrain individuals by occupational therapists by starting with easier pictures and gradually advancing to more and more intricate designs.
7. Finally, Dr. Martinez gives 3 reference links for us to check out. Read her whole article here, then go get yourself some colored pencils and a coloring book and get started!