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Can Coloring Like Kids Help Adults Be Happier?

Techniques/ Tips

Can Coloring Like Kids Help Adults Be Happier?

Father of analytical psychology, Carl Jung, pioneered the prescription of coloring books to his adult patients in the early 1900s, a practice that is trending once again more than a century later. Many psychologists and therapists are using the childhood pastime of coloring to assist with treatment of clinical illnesses ranging from PTSD and depression to eating disorders, anger management and substance abuse.

In a 2006 study, mindfulness-based art therapy (MBAT) “demonstrated a significant decrease in symptoms of distress and significant improvements in key aspects of health-related quality of life” in female cancer patients, yielding “encouraging data that support a possible future role for the intervention as a psychological treatment option for cancer patients.”

Since art in itself can be a stress trigger when one is not so artistically inclined, adult coloring books facilitate creative expression within the safe confines of structural lines. But for that very reason, there is some debate as to whether coloring is truly art therapy.

“It’s like the difference between listening to music versus learning how to play an instrument,” Donna Betts, president of the board of the American Art Therapy Association, told The Guardian. “Listening to music is something easy that everyone can do, but playing an instrument is a whole other skillset.”

Even so, the benefits of adult coloring are hard to deny. Dr. Stan Rodski, a neuropsychologist, told Medical Daily, “Coloring elicits a relaxed mindset, similar to what you would achieve through meditation. Tasks with predictable results, such as coloring or knitting, can often be calming.”

Psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman, co-author of the book Wired to Create, told New York Magazine, “As we get older, we lose our playful side. I think anything that resembles our childhood play can get us back into that frame of mind as an adult.”

So, the next time you’re feeling stressed, sad, overwhelmed or upset, consider coloring or any other visual art form. You don’t have to make a masterpiece to feel the effects that so many psychologists and studies have backed over the years.