Color Your Way to a Happier You

You might have thought you left the days of Crayola crayons and coloring books in elementary school, but it looks like coloring may be more beneficial now in college than during our childhood!

Coloring is an activity many people associate with a way to entertain kids; however, researchers have found that coloring as an adult can brighten our world in many ways.

Reduces stress and anxiety

Carl Jung, a psychologist during the early nineteenth century, was one of the first to believe that coloring can be used as a sort of therapy to reduce stress. Specifically, he believed that coloring mandalas, geometric shapes now found in many adult coloring books, helps people to experience the benefits of meditation, like inner calm and self-realization. Additionally, a 2005 study by Nancy Curry and Tim Kasser found that people who colored mandalas reported a significant drop in their level of anxiety.

Replaces negative thoughts

Psychologist Gloria Martinez Ayala found that coloring reduces activity in our amygdala, the part in our brain that is activated when we feel scared or stressed. The act of choosing the colors and staring at the shapes you’re filling in narrows our focus and lets us have fun without thinking of our worries. According to Dr. Joel Pearson, a brain scientist at the University of New South Wales, “concentrating on coloring an image may facilitate the replacement of negative thoughts and images with pleasant ones.”

Allows your creativity to flow

Coloring sparks the part of our brain accountable for logic and creativity. It’s even considered a “brain exercise” since you utilize both sides of the cerebral cortex; you use the logic section of your brain through your choice of design and color, and you use the creative side when blending colors together to create that perfect shade. Even if you’re not the most skilled artist, coloring is an easy and simple activity that brings out your creative side.

Helps you stay in the present moment (and off the phone)

We use our phones more than we would like to admit in times of leisure. Sometimes, using technology can make us even more stressed. Constantly staring at a screen isn’t good for our health and not always the best use of our time. According to the Daily Mail, “the average person now spends more time on their phone and computer than they do sleeping.” Knowing how much technology surrounds our lives, it’s important to make the effort to spend time doing activities that are unplugged. Coloring is perfect because it takes such little effort; whether you own a fancy coloring book or just a piece of paper, allow yourself just 30 minutes of complete “me time” drawing instead of scrolling on a device.

Lets you be a kid again

As college students we’ve done a lot of growing up. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t bring out our inner child again! Coloring can spark a nostalgic mood, reminding us of carefree childhood days. You can even pull out some of your old coloring books, if you still own them, to really feel like your young self again. Imagine coloring red-haired Ariel from The Little Mermaid or the blue Genie from Aladdin?

There’s no reason not to give it a try! Grab your favorite book, get some crayons or colored pencils and color your heart out.

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