Color Your Way to Calm

By: Gigi Hume

As kids, we all had memories of coloring, wasting away our days drawing houses, stick figures, just taking inspiration from anything around us. But as we age, our love for a coloring book begins to fade in favor of other hobbies and interests. However, research discovered in a psychological study has turned this once childhood pastime into a nationwide trend.

Psychologists Nancy A. Curry and Tim Kasser asked 84 college students to color designs called “mandalas,” Hindu and Buddhist symbols of the universe. Before doing this, the researchers asked them to rate their anxiety on a scale of 0-9 and from there were asked to write about a scary, anxiety-inducing event. Afterwards, they all went on to color the mandala patterns and all of the students reported feeling less anxious. The reason for this, according to modern psychologists, is just the act of coloring creates a state of mind dubbed “flow.” In this state, people feel a “mindless” sensation, and in a sense forget their surroundings and gear all focus towards one activity, thus providing clarity and reduction of stress.  

Now more than a decade after this study, coloring books are popping up in retailers nationwide from Urban Outfitters to Barnes and Noble, all promising this “flowy” feeling. Although this is…. it brings to question why this spike it popularity is occurring now. Mainly this is due to the powerful presence of social media, with sites like Facebook and Pinterest sharing posts of successful coloring pages or tips on how to make them pop. Together, the two spread this trend like wildfire to the adult crowd.

Not only this, but each different coloring book attracts a different crowd, allowing for people to express themselves through different patterns and designs that are all their own. This tactic gives the consumer many appealing choices and has proven very effective as it gives said consumer a sense of individuality. Stress-relieving, creative, unique, the act of coloring is, “…a great way for people who want to come home from a stressful day at work and unwind,” says art therapist Lacy Mucklow by providing a break from responsibilities and distractions surrounding daily life for focusing on the mind.

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