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January 2, 2016

Coloring as a Tool for Stress, Depression, and Anxiety

A pink plastic box filled with crayons.  Words across image say: Stressed? Take a Coloring Break

    Have you ever looked up from work and your life to see that something you have liked for years has become popular?  You then might think to yourself, "Well this is nice, but when and how did this happen?"

    I have had coloring books for years.  I think I started about ten years ago when I was working at a summer camp.  Summer camps can be really stressful for the people running the activities and making sure that the children don't hurt each other or get lost in the woods when they are supposed to be asleep.  (side note: I am not exaggerating)

    I kept a coloring book and a big box of crayons in my cabin for the councilors to use on their breaks.  My only rules, aside from the items not being accessible to the children, were that the pictures had to stay in the book and anyone who colored needed to sign their page.  I still have them.


Two open Hello Kitty coloring books open with signitures blacked out.  An my little pony friendship is magic coloring book closed under the other two.

   I now have a total of three kid coloring book, but toward the end of the year in 2015 I bought my first adult coloring book.  I have to say I am super happy that they are so popular.  It means that the ones with nicer art are more accessible.  You could always find coloring pages on the internet, but if you didn't have access to a printer that made them relatively useless unless you were going to color it digitally.

    I have been seeing a lot of stuff on how good these coloring books are for you.  And I have to agree as a person with depression and having to deal with so much stress I love being able to relax and just color.  It is a nice short escape from the stress and ugliness of the world.  So I did a little googling because I wanted to know when all these coloring books became so popular.  This is one of the articles I found.

Why Adults Are Buying Coloring Books (for Themselves) by Adrienne Raphel July 12, 2015 The New Yorker 
    It is a good read.  There is much else to be talked about though.  But I think they gave me what I wanted.  Some info on how this fad seemed to take hold around me.  lol

    Coloring is relaxing and nice.  It is creative, but I will have to agree with Susan Linn that, "Coloring might help to release tension, but it’s a fundamentally more directed and restrictive activity than painting something from scratch."  As an artist I actually enjoy the restrictive creativity of coloring books, because they do not use up my creative energy.  I hope that makes sense.  Just tell me if it doesn't and I'll try to elaborate.

A collage of unfinished coloring pages.

    Coloring for me has become something I do when my stress level is starting to get really high.  It is an activity that I can easily go do.  I have all the tools here at home and the tools aren't expensive.  While some of the nicer books and colored pencils can get expensive, I have gotten kids coloring books from the craft store for a dollar.

    I won't tell you that all you need is a coloring book or two to get rid of your issues.  They certainly can't hold a candle to the benefit of a good therapist or councilor.  I wouldn't even say they are close to something like that.  They are something you can use to help with stress.  And that is a great tool to have.

 Well Tata for now,
 Lilian

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