Let’s face it — people today lead hectic lives. Between working full-time, taking care of the kids, managing a household, there is precious little time to take a moment and just chill. And sometimes, when there is that quiet moment, it can be hard to turn the mind off. Recently, a new way to wind down has been discovered, and it works without having to spend time driving to a spa and without having to spend a good bit of money. Sometimes, there’s not always time for luxuries.
Welcome to the world of coloring books for adults — pictures with more detailed patterns that can turn into works of art while providing an opportunity to enjoy a relaxing activity. The popularity of these intricately designed pages seems to be taking a strong foothold. Sarah Earle, merchandise manager for Barnes & Noble on Forest Drive, says she is seeing a significant increase in the number of people looking for the perfect pattern to complete with colored pencils and crayons, even felt-tip markers. “We have four prominent displays right now, and we are continuously getting new product,” she says. “I don’t see the trend slowing down any time soon.”
This trend appears to have kicked off a couple years back with the publication of Secret Garden by illustrator Johanna Basford. She quickly followed that up with a second book entitled Enchanted Forest. “I’ve actually tried it myself,” Sarah says, “and it really is relaxing. It’s a great activity to have on road trips.”
Secret Garden can also be found at local Columbia boutique, Just the Thing. When asked about the craze on coloring, Tracy Wright, vice president of Just the Thing, says that coloring is a great way for adults to relax at the end of a hectic day. “As a working mom with a chaotic lifestyle, coloring in a ‘grown up coloring book’ is a calming way to unwind at night,” says Tracy.
There is also a coloring book entitled Colorama that has a collection of floral, paisley and stained glass designs. It has beautiful drawings on perforated pages and, as a bonus, it comes with a pack of colored pencils. For those with artistic backgrounds and those without, consider having more options for coloring media, including a supersized box of 120 crayons and another set of colored pencils with lots of modern colors.
Coloring is great for relaxation, but what other positive impacts can coloring have? According to some psychologists, coloring books possess a certain “de-stressing power” on the brain. Focusing on one activity — coloring — puts the mind at ease by temporarily alleviating worries and cares of everyday life. Coloring books incorporate the parts of the brain used for logic and creativity. Logic is used when coloring inside the lines, forms and shapes on a page, while creativity is used when mixing and matching colors in these various shapes. Coloring also involves the parts of the cerebral cortex that control vision and fine motor skills. This type of relaxation lowers the activity of the amygdala, the part of the brain involved in controlling emotion that is affected by stress.
It has also been suggested that coloring can help soothe those with Alzheimer’s disease. Dealing with symptoms of Alzheimer’s can cause much frustration and stress for people, and art therapy has become one way for patients to express their feelings and cope with emotions. Art therapy is the use of the creative process of making art to help deal with mental and emotional issues. Coloring is one form of art therapy that can be easily provided to an Alzheimer’s patient by a caregiver at home.
Other benefits that stem from art therapy include new ways to communicate and improved concentration for people with Alzheimer’s. Using coloring as art therapy, caregivers can engage in the activity with Alzheimer’s patients by helping them concentrate and encouraging them.
Five of Amazon’s top 20 best-selling books are adult coloring books. The highest ranked coloring books are Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Patterns by Blue Star Coloring, Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest. Take a look online or at your local bookstore, and you’ll find a multitude of books full of patterned pages from which to choose.
So once you have chosen a coloring book, what type of pen or crayon are you going to use? Barnes & Noble suggests a Studio Series 30-Piece Colored Pencil Set. This set is of artist quality, and the soft-core leads create smooth shading and blending. Barnes & Noble also suggests the Brush Markers Multi-colored Set of 12, in which the markers have tips that mimic the action of a paint brush giving you a similar effect to watercolor painting.