Coloring—yes, even as an adult—can help relieve stress. Who knew? There’s scientific evidence to back it up!
Thanks to the insanity of the past couple of years, finding a way to relax and unwind has become of paramount importance. Oddly enough, a childhood pastime could help you achieve a type of mental nirvana.
I became curious about this when we learned that our UnitedHealthcare® Medicare clients were downloading coloring pages from their member portals more often than any other document.
My initial thought was maybe they are being printed for grandkids. Turns out, these are some of the benefits that adults can attain by picking up the crayons or colored pencils:
• Relaxes Your Brain and Improves Brain Function
• Induces Meditative State
• Improves Motor Skills
• Improves Sleep
• Improves Focus
• Reduces Anxiety
• Relieves Stress
Well, who among us couldn’t use a little bit of all that? Let’s dig in a little deeper and see how all these things are possible.
Relaxes Your Brain and Improves Brain Function
Coloring lets you focus on one simple thing. This helps keep the myriad of thoughts from streaming through your brain at warp speed. When you’re coloring, different parts of your brain's cerebral hemispheres are activated. When you choose what colors to use, your creativity is activated. As you color forms and shapes, your logic is also activated.
Induces Meditative State
We create a meditative state when we stop focusing on future or past worries and only focus on the present. Focusing on a singular action quiets your inner voice and takes negative thoughts and emotions from your mind. Coloring can help you get better at meditation naturally.
Improves Motor Skills
Coloring with more complex designs and smaller spaces require you to hone your hand-eye coordination and motor skills. These skills get neglected when you're just scrolling on your electronics. Some clinicians believe that, in addition to coloring, activities like crossword puzzles and brain teasers not only improve motor skills, but they may also help delay the onset of dementia.
Coloring before bed is much more sedative than looking at your phone. Electronics emit blue light, which can interfere with the bodies ability to release melatonin.
Coloring activates your frontal lobe, which means that your brain is organizing and problem-solving. Regular coloring sessions allow you to relax from the day and focus on one thing.
Coloring for at least 20 minutes is an effective way to lower your heart rate and lower any anxiety. In the studies, the clinicians found that coloring more intricate designs like mandalas was more effective than coloring in a plaid pattern or blank page.
Other benefits to coloring that affect your anxiety include:
Reduced mental health stress
And finally, the stress relief. Coloring is a repetitive activity that requires attention to detail. When you're focused on the coloring, you're not paying attention to other things that may have caused stress during your day.
Starting or ending your day by coloring a page out of an adult coloring book can stir up feelings of nostalgia and remind you of your childhood. This connection to a time when things were typically less stressful can also help you relax.
When we put it all together, coloring sounds like an ideal way for us to help our brain relax, while also keeping it sharp. That’s a win-win in my book!
So, get out there, buy some colored pencils, and start shading the blues away!
Download some coloring sheets here. Or, stop by and visit the Health Insurance and Retirement Advocates crew at our office in downtown Mount Dora, FL or when you see us at a community event. We’ll have some stress-relieving giveaways on hand!