Does Coloring In Coloring Books Really Help With Mental Health?

Does Coloring In Coloring Books Really Help With Mental Health?There’s a coloring book for just about everything right now. Coloring has become a global phenomena, stripped from the hands of babes of kindergarten classrooms, thrust into the hands of adults who need to unwind. From depression to anxiety, from stress management to supporting recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, coloring books are helping everyone out. Coloring book themes range from famous franchises like Harry Potter to flowers, to animals, to bible verses. Don’t want to carry around a coloring book at a ton of coloring supplies? Don’t worry-there’s an app for that. For every touch screen smart device there is also now a coloring app to help you get that coloring in when you need it most.

Coloring was certainly fun in grade school and a novel treat in higher levels of education. Does coloring in coloring books really help with mental health? Art Therapy journal argues that coloring in coloring book is more effective than other therapeutic forms of coloring, like just freestyle drawing.

Their study found that coloring specific patterns created a better result than others. Mandalas, geometric patterns, plaids, and other structured complex patterns were best for reducing anxiety. According to the study, “coloring the symmetrical form of the mandala with its repeating patterns and complexity purportedly helps to draw individuals into a state similar to meditation.” Admittedly, the study states, coloring therapy is lacking in research. However, as the study explains, coloring “combines elements of art therapy (i.e., a coloring form) and meditation (i.e., deeply concentrating on an experience that is soothing).”

Meditation, as opposed to coloring, now comes with a wealth of scientific research supporting its effectiveness in reducing the symptoms of mental health disorders. “Meditation, or the practice of calmly limiting attention and thought through the use of mental exercises (Smith, 1975), has also proven beneficial for anxiety,” the study cites.

Coloring also improves mindfulness practice. Mindfulness, as the study describes it is “awareness and attentiveness to the present moment”. Symptoms of mental health disorders like anxiety are improved through mindfulness practices by focusing on the present moment rather than the past or the future.

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