Google the words “Adult Coloring Books” and you will find a plethora of results. First you will see zillions of coloring books for sale on Amazon, Etsy, Barnes and Noble, Michaels, etc. Then you will find a number of trending news stories on the topic. There is a lot of interest in adult coloring books these days for a number of reasons.
Psychologists and wellness gurus have linked adult coloring to “mindfulness” and myriad other psychological benefits. Coloring is said to help anxious adults relax, and some experts claim that coloring can be as therapeutic as meditation and yoga. Coloring taps into our childhood instincts towards “play”, the experts say, and it gives us permission to release our apprehensions around adult obligations for a moment, allowing us to “de-stress” from our stressful lives.
Is it for real? Can coloring a line drawing in a book really do all that? Do adult coloring books offer great hope for our stressed out population of grown ups, or is it just a bunch of hype?
I haven’t seen any hard evidence or research on the benefits of coloring on the psyche, but I have no reason to dispute it either. As a former clinical counselor, I recognize that there is great value in simple acts of creativity that require focus but not commitment, and coloring provides that value. It allows people to be creative without the pressure of performance towards an outcome, and that can be relaxing and comforting to many people.
Most non-artist adults that I encounter enjoy creative experiences, but they tend to be hyper-critical of their abilities to draw. Coloring an existing image in a coloring book offers them the joy of creating without the apprehension of having to draw something themselves, and it can be a fun way to unwind. Adult coloring books typically have more complexity in the images than children’s books do, and they have less juvenile themes to make them more interesting and challenging. The challenge is not stress inducing, though, so it holds one’s interest without causing frustration.
Coloring can be relaxing and, thus, it can be therapeutic. I suspect that some of the over-the-top claims are more marketing than they are clinically significant tenets, but there is no harm in adding coloring to your wellness regimen. It is no panacea, and it won’t fix society, but it won’t hurt anything either.
Truthfully, there are some people (myself included) who do not succeed with other forms of relaxation and mindfulness. Personally, I am like the Aflac Duck when I attempt yoga and meditation. I am awkward and self conscious with such mind and body practice, and it does not fit my style. We all need to find what works for us, and if coloring does that, then I say go for it.
If nothing else, Coloring can be a fun thing to do, whether it is therapeutic or not, and that is value enough. It was fun for us as children, so why should we stop doing it when we grow older?
I created my Artist BZTAT’s Color Me Cats Coloring Book because my fans and collectors asked me to. Each one had a different reason for wanting a BZTAT coloring book, but whatever the reasons, I have found it to be a fun new way to share my work with others. If it is therapeutic for some, then that just makes it more fun.
In answer to the question, “Hope or hype?” I say, who cares? What difference does it really make? Relax, enjoy and surrender to the process if you so desire. You just might have a bit of fun.
Life is an Adventure!