Let me lay all of the cards on the table: I was coloring well before it became a trendy fad (and, no, I don’t mean back in school when you got graded for it). Coloring books and crayons (markers and coloring pencils came later with the popularity boom) have been my go-to solace from the world since my parents first introduced me to those tools. I endured side-eyes and forced smiles from people when I perused the aisles in stores (clearly sans children) for years. Now, I roll my eyes at those same people gushing over how therapeutic coloring is (hypocrites).
That said, coloring books really are wonders, especially for people in the creative arts. Obviously, they’re great for people with artistic flair, but anyone with a penchant for creativity can benefit from taking a break with a coloring book and their color medium of choice. Why? Because coloring quiets your brain. Why else would therapists champion it all the time? You go into a zen state where everything falls away, leaving you with no concerns, no stress, and no thoughts beyond which color to pick up next.
Tell me that doesn’t sound awesome!
So, yeah, it’s a hero for people, like me, who battle anxiety and depression (if you read my Silentio Sonante blog, this isn’t news). When the brain goes into overload, it’s a safe escape and reset button. For my loved ones, they know the sight of my bamboo lapboard and markers scattered around me means I’ve hit my limit. They leave me alone until the book closes, and then they ask how I’m feeling. It’s a silent “Do Not Disturb” sign that conveys more information to them than the actual little door sign.
But coloring books do so much more.
Writer’s block happens – ask any writer. (And if they tell you it doesn’t, they’re lying through their teeth) You hit walls, and hammering at them gets you nowhere. You can’t force synapses to function. Coloring can offer solutions. It’s designed to relax you, and your malfunctioning brain. (Okay, maybe writer’s block isn’t a malfunction, but it sure feels like it sometimes!) Set your trouble scene at the front of your mind, pick a coloring book, and then let go. Somewhere in the midst of all of those colors, things start to unravel. Maybe because you stop beating at the wall with a sledgehammer and step back from it for a second (and realize there’s a freaking door two steps to the right). Maybe because you give up on the stranglehold you have on that synapse and return the blood supply.
Whatever the reason, you’ll figure out the scene and be able to get back to work. I find my grip on the markers relaxing. (I can also tell which pictures come from writer’s block versus mental health moments simply based on color intensity and color choice) My jaw eases, my shoulders sink back to their normal position, and I smile again.
Give it a try. Whether you need it for creative inspiration or just as a break from the world. You’re not being childish (even if you use crayons – my giant collection is still a personal favorite…even if the names are kind of weird). You’ll thank yourself for the investment, believe me.