If you haven’t heard of adult coloring books yet, you will soon. They are filled with pages of beautifully intricate patterns, like “nom du book”.
This DIY-art-therapy phenomenon has lead prestigious media outlets from The Atlantic and the New York Times, to NPR and CNN Health, to ask a key question:
does it work? Can coloring really relieve stress for adults, or is it just a distraction from our problems?
Finishing a picture gives our brains the chance to zone out, similar to meditation, but it also gives us a sense of accomplishment
“There’s color on the page where there wasn’t before.”
This sense of accomplishment — having something to show for our task — makes coloring a positive experience, which is why it not only gives people a momentary release from stress, but it also actually improves our moods.
“People are happier when they have positive experiences, like when they’re creating something or going somewhere. We zone out when we watch TV, but we aren’t necessarily happier when we come back to reality, because we haven’t been active participants in the task.”
Coloring differs importantly from other forms of creative expression, like writing or doodling, because it has a set structure. Coloring offers that relief and mindfulness without the paralysis that a blank page can cause.
Source:National Institute of Health
In a coloring book, the important decisions of form and layout have already been made for us — our only job is to pick a crayon.