Does a warm and fuzzy escape from the demands and deadlines of the here-and-now sound inviting? If so, you are not alone. Millions around the world are discovering that coloring provides that escape, and that there is real science behind its ability to relieve stress and its related disorders.
Adult coloring books have exploded in popularity. As of this writing, four of Amazon-dot-com’s top 20 Bestsellers are adult coloring books with sales in the millions, and the trend seems to have no end in sight. One publisher says he’s “never seen a phenomenon like it.”
However, coloring is not just a commercial fad with tons of hype; there are many studies to support its popularity and benefits. According to many doctors, psychologists and scientific researchers, coloring appears to help us achieve balanced mental, emotional and physical health.
Wow, that is a pretty big task, you might (correctly) be saying. Let’s examine this claim to discover exactly why and how coloring brings about such beneficial affects seems to center on the combination of two essential factors: 1) the Act of Coloring itself, and 2) the Exposure to Color as therapy.
The Act of Coloring
The majority of folks today lead demanding, exhausting, stressful lives that tax our mental, emotional and physical state on a daily basis. The Act of Coloring counteracts all that. It requires us to focus and be quiet and just enjoy. It recalls a simpler, less stressful time in our lives,
Studies further show that about 15-20 minutes into this soothing, relaxed, feel-good state, our brain wave activity slows and we enter an altered a state of consciousness, free of tension, anxiety and stress. This phase is similar to that obtained through deep meditation or yoga … possibly even some medications. The Creatively Mindful drawings offered on this site were created by artist Diane Pearl while in this altered state.
The effortless, pleasurable diversion of coloring allows us to access both brain hemispheres and arrive at a magical place where the conscious mind connects with the subconscious. Here, valuable traits like creativity, insight, serenity and perception are all amplified. As a bonus, the more often we enter this zone, the more accessible are the characteristics commonly found here. The result in our daily lives tends to be a calmer, healthier, happier individual.
Additional benefits sometimes attributed to coloring include improved academic performance, better motor skills, a more positive outlook on life, improved sleep patterns and more innovative performance in the workplace.
Exposure to Color (Chromotherapy)
The second factor in explaining the efficacy of coloring is the ancient practice of color therapy, commonly called chromotherapy, which is also gaining momentum as valid science.
There is evidence of color being used for healing and therapy throughout ancient Egypt, Greece, China and India. Today, researchers are able to study how color not only affects psychological behavior, but also physiological systems of the body.
Chromotherapy is based on the knowledge that everything that exists is made up of electromagnetic energy vibrating at different frequencies. These energies correspond to light, sound and color, all of which are frequency wavelengths that attract identical and harmonizing wavelengths.
According to the National Library of Medicine, colors attract or activate certain biochemical and hormonal processes in the human body. In other words, color serves as both stimulant or sedative necessary to balancing the entire body and its organs.
Light and music act in a similar manner, and when used appropriately in combination with color, they can enhance the desired properties even further. For this reason, listening to meditative music designed to slow brainwaves and synchronize the left and right brain hemispheres is highly recommended during coloring.
Additionally, research by Massachusetts Institute of Technology nutritionist Richard J. Wurtman,has shown that individual colors influence respiration rates, blood pressure, biorhythms and brain activity. Due to these findings, color is used as a treatment for a wide-range of illness and disease, including autism, epilepsy, insomnia, attention deficit disorder, depression, strokes and much more.
For instance, blue light is currently used in neonatal units to treat jaundice. Approximately 30,000 premature babies each year in the U.S. are treated with baths of blue light, thereby avoiding dangerous blood transfusions. Another common example: ultraviolet light is used as the standard treatment for psoriasis.
Combining the Act of Coloring with Chromotherapy
The combination of coloring focus with color selection and application is a potent one. The selection of beneficial colors and their corresponding intensity are believed to be instinctively chosen by an individual during the coloring process. In summary, the efficacy of the focus-color synthesis can be seen through scientific study as well as through the growing number of coloring enthusiasts.
So regardless of age, gender or lifestyle, if you want to say goodbye to stress, anxiety and depression and hello to an easy, fun diversion, coloring is for you!
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Editor’s Note: One of our favorite, highly recommended audio tracks designed to complement a coloring session can be heard here. Recorded by Lake Chapala musician Daniel Cordero, this 18-minute track is part of a Tranquility Series CD called Tuning In to Soundwaves. It features soothing acoustic guitar recorded over binaural beats that have been shown to relax and heal. This CD is available at Diane Pearl Colecciones in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico.