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A Childhood Memory: Coloring Books

Coloring+has+become+an+outlet+for+adults+to+relieve+stress.+%0APhoto+Credit%3A+Jorge+Ribas+from+The+Washington+Post
Coloring has become an outlet for adults to relieve stress. 
Photo Credit: Jorge Ribas from The Washington Post

Coloring has become an outlet for adults to relieve stress. Photo Credit: Jorge Ribas from The Washington Post

Coloring has become an outlet for adults to relieve stress. Photo Credit: Jorge Ribas from The Washington Post

Shelbie Cook, Editor

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Coloring books are a fond part of childhood memories, and most people remember sitting at the kitchen table, flipping through some pages with coloring utensils spread before them. However, coloring books are no longer just for children, and have recently become a popular outlet for relieving stress among adults. The popularization of coloring has prompted the creation of numerous apps which allows people to color on their mobile devices, and because of the access to iPads, students here at Lansing High School have taken part in this fad.

According to Donna Betts, The President of American Art Therapy Association (AATA) and her colleague, Richard Carolan, “the surge in popularity of adult use of coloring books is likely due to individuals tapping into and spreading the word about the intrinsic healing qualities of art that have served as a benefit to people of all cultures throughout history.” 

AATA is a “not-for-profit” organization that is dedicated to art therapy. Members include licensed therapists who specialize in this form of therapy and other mental health practitioners. The organization has provided research on the effectiveness art therapy has on different groups that are more vulnerable to mental illnesses and mental disorders.

On their official website, AATA explained art therapy as “an integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship.”

The organization stated that art therapy is “used to improve cognitive and sensory-motor [sic] functions, foster self-esteem and self-awareness, cultivate emotional resilience, promote insight, enhance social skills, reduce and resolve conflicts and distress, and advance societal and ecological change.” 

However, despite what can be assumed, coloring books and art therapy are not the same thing. Instead, they just share similar benefits when it comes to maintaining mental health.

“I like art because it’s a unique way to show my perspective,” senior Abigail Dosey said.

Dosey enjoys coloring for the same reason it became popular among adults: it helps “control” emotions.

“[I] have control over [my] expression,” she explained.

 

Marygrace Berberian, the director of New York University’s Art Therapy Program, explained in an article that coloring stimulates the mind and promotes concentration.

“Coloring in a mandala allows a person to turn down the volume of ruminations and focus on the task at hand,” Berberian said.

The reason coloring helps the mind focus is because of the “flow” that is present.

During a TED Talk, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi defines “flow” as “being focused, having confidence in achieving the task at hand, [and] achieving a sense of serenity and being in a state of timelessness.”

Csikszentmihalyi believes coloring has a “microflow” which is “a compromised form of flow” because it’s a calming task.

The popularity of coloring has introduced coloring apps on mobile devices. Because of the access to personal iPads here at the high school, students are able to download coloring apps for themselves to enjoy.

“Personally, I prefer the app Sandbox because I always struggle with picking out colors to use in my artwork,” Dosey said.

The coloring book fad is growing and will continue to grow, while helping adults contain their stress levels.

“The coloring book phenomenon is helping to reintroduce art as an important component of health and wellness,” Betts and Carolan said.

 

 

 

 

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A Childhood Memory: Coloring Books