Why adult coloring books are good for you – CNN

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However, it is important to note that using an adult coloring book is not exactly the same as completing an art therapy session. “Coloring itself cannot be called art therapy because art therapy relies on the relationship between the client and the therapist,” says Marygrace Berberian, a certified art therapist and the Clinical Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator for the Graduate Art Therapy Program at NYU. And while art therapy was first practiced in the 1940s, the first research on using coloring as therapy is generally believed to have only begun as recently the mid 90s, according to Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association.

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The Health Benefits of Adult Coloring Books

Despite the fact that coloring and art therapy aren’t quite the same thing, coloring does offer a slew of mental benefits. “Coloring definitely has therapeutic potential to reduce anxiety, create focus or bring [about] more mindfulness,” says Berberian. Groundbreaking research in 2005 proved anxiety levels dropped when subjects colored mandalas, which are round frames with geometric patterns inside. Simply doodling, though, had no effect in reducing the other subjects’ stress levels.

Just like meditation, coloring also allows us to switch off our brains from other thoughts and focus only on the moment, helping to alleviate free-floating anxiety. It can be particularly effective for people who aren’t comfortable with more creatively expressive forms of art, says Berberian, “My experience has been that those participants who are more guarded find a lot of tranquility in coloring an image. It feels safer and it creates containment around their process,” she adds.

How to Get Started

Want to fill in some pages? Keep in mind, if you’re dealing with significant mental or emotional issues, art therapy is going to be more effective than coloring solo. But for those who just need a hobby to help them chill out, these books could be the ticket. As Berberian puts it, “I truly believe that people should be engaging in activities that make them feel restored.”

According to ColoringBooks.net, adults should skip the crayons and go straight for the colored pencils (precision is everything when it comes to tuning in). And Crayola has a complete guide that shows how to take your tools up a notch by blending colors, shading and adding highlights and lowlights to your newfound masterpieces. Now get scribbling!