Many people have happy memories of using crayons and fun coloring pages at their favorite restaurants as children, but at some point the restaurant hostess likely decided they looked too old for coloring and stopped offering them. Because coloring is associated with childhood, it would be surprising to see a group of adults sitting around a table with their crayons and colored pencils out. However, with the current pandemic, maybe this is exactly what adults need.
Recently, many stores started to feature coloring books with more complex patterns aimed towards adults and promised that coloring would help them relax. According to Nancy A. Curry and Tim Kasser in the “Journal of the American Art Therapy Association,” there is in fact a correlation between coloring and lowered anxiety.
The findings of their study “suggest that structured coloring of a reasonably complex geometric pattern may induce a meditative state that benefits individuals suffering from anxiety.”
However, coloring alone may not significantly reduce anxiety. In order to get optimal results, Angel Diaz, President of the California State Monterey Bay (CSUMB) Psychology Society and fourth-year psychology major, suggests that coloring in a more structured environment with a group and intentionally using it as a mindfulness activity could produce a better coloring experience.
Whether or not coloring is able to alleviate all your stress, it is certainly a fun way to take some time to relax during the shelter-in-place. According to Diaz there are a variety of options for coloring. “Try out some different [coloring] methods and a lot of different techniques,” he said.
One method people may prefer is coloring on their tablet devices. “I think digitally coloring is just as relaxing for sure! It’s super simple once you learn and it makes digital art look more professional without any of the crayon/pencil markings,” said Hannah Paige, a third-year communication design student and assistant at CSUMB’s Maker Space. Marker Space hosts drawing and coloring classes every Friday.
Coloring can come in many varieties from digital to paper and from complex to simple. It is up to individual preference to find how to get the most enjoyment from coloring.
CSUMB’s Maker Space recently held a demonstration on how to further customize coloring by creating your own coloring pages. Rachell Hester, the Maker Space coordinator who helps run the weekly workshops said, “I love how personal colors are to individuals … I associate some colors based on early childhood experiences, for instance avocado green still reminds me of my grandparents fridge and burnt sienna reminds me of the shag carpet they had in their house!”
Color theory also associates colors with feelings and moods. “What colors you gravitate to might indicate your current frame of mind or your personality,” Diaz said.
“Be open about coloring and know that you don’t have to complete everything on the spot. Take fifteen minutes of your time and give yourself that time,” he said.
To relieve some stress and get straight to coloring, download this page to color digitally or print out.