When the going gets tough, real women start coloring. They’re picking up adult coloring books by the droves, at bookstores and craft stores, on Amazon.com and even from the Home Shopping Network.
The designs appeal to every interest — from whimsical doodles to circular mandalas, nature scenes and fantasy worlds.
Coloring not only evokes happy memories of childhood; the act can also foster a sense of well-being and offer a relaxing respite from our digital world. Crafters have known this intuitively for years.
An accumulation of research shows that these creative activities can help you de-stress from everyday pressures. Recent studies suggest that structured, rhythmic endeavors such as coloring, knitting, crocheting or quilting are particularly beneficial because they ease you into a meditative state of mind that allows you to push away negative thoughts and worries.
“These activities engage your hands as well as your mind and your focus,” says art therapist Lacy Mucklow, the author of several best-selling Zen-themed coloring books. “Plus, the repetitive actions release serotonin, the brain transmitter responsible for relaxation.”
Numerous studies have looked into how crafting benefits mood and physical health. In a 2006 study co-sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and several federal health agencies, researchers found that adults 65 or older who engaged in creative activities such as making jewelry, painting or writing had better overall health, made fewer visits to the doctor, used less medication and had fewer health problems than non-crafters.
Stress reduction is a top reason Cathy Simocko-Smith, 59, a professional gardener inBridgeport, Conn., enjoys coloring. “Coloring at night while I’m watching TV helps quiet my mind,” she says. “I can really lose myself in it, and it stops me from thinking about my work and the stresses in my life.”
Putting Pencil to Paper
Coloring is a great way to explore your creativity — it’s easy, inexpensive and you don’t have to know how to draw. The 10 to 20 minutes you spend coloring an image that gives you a sense of satisfaction can have a positive ripple effect throughout your day.
What should your goals be?
- Make time to color for a few minutes every day. Think of it as a healthy habit.
- Have fun and don’t judge. You don’t have to color inside the lines or finish your picture. If you’re trying to be perfect, you won’t relax.
- What about technique?
- Watercolor pencils and markers are particularly fun to use because they allow you to blend colors.
- Lay down some color, apply a drop of water and spread the color around with a brush.
Nancy Monson, USA TODAY Best Years magazine
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