Real talk: over the past year and a half, we’ve clutched our phones and swiped and scrolled more than we’d like to admit. (These are strange and stressful times, so we won’t be too hard on ourselves for doing what we need to do just to get through the day.) But during this period where all the light seemingly slipped away – and with it our spirits – we discovered something else that helped. And it was eye-opening and brain-relaxing. We started coloring.
It makes sense. After all, research shows that coloring is associated with positive mental health outcomes. One study in Taiwan showed that older adults who colored mandalas had less anxiety and more positive emotions than participants in the control group. A study of American college students showed decreased test anxiety in students who colored before an exam, and increased anxiety in a group that did not color. Coloring is a simple task that feels both familiar and fun. A structured activity with easy instructions is just what we need when our minds need to focus.
We may not be able to control a lot of what goes on in the outside world, but we can make small choices each day that help us bring peace and quiet into our busy lives. But coloring isn’t just “dealing” with stress, it’s actually a way to cope, decrease anxiety, and increase positivity.
Koo, M., Chen, H. P., & Yeh, Y. C. (2020). Coloring Activities for Anxiety Reduction and Mood Improvement in Taiwanese Community-Dwelling Older Adults: A Randomized Controlled Study. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2020, 6964737. https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/6964737
Dana Carsley MEd & Nancy L. Heath PhD (2020) Effectiveness of mindfulness-based coloring for university students’ test anxiety, Journal of American College Health, 68:5,518-527, DOI: 10.1080/07448481.2019.1583239