Think back to your elementary school day, the days of recess, snack time, crayons and simple joys. One of every child’s favorite pastimes was coloring in coloring books, either at school or at home. They would depict nature scenes, cartoon characters, and so much more. Blank outlines would invite you to fill in whatever colors your young heart desires. You had the freedom to color the sky purple or the grass orange. They made have mostly been tools to improve fine motor skills, but most people just think back on them as fun.
But recently, you don’t have to turn to nostalgia to revisit the feeling of using a coloring book. These days, the new fad is adult coloring books that are designed, not for kids, but just for grown ups.
While the ones you may remember as a kid involved TV cartoon characters and silly scenes, adult coloring books are designed for a more refined taste. They can include:
- Intricate flowers and butterflies
- Swirling abstract patterns like paisley
- Mandalas and Asian inspired art
- Detailed or realistic-looking animals
- Fun objects like hot air balloons
These artistic outlines go beyond color-by-numbers and encourage grown ups to create flowing and beautiful works of art. There is a style for everyone. In addition to the ones above, there are also more niche coloring books or joke coloring books featuring hilarious comic scenes or celebrities.
For the past couple of years, adult coloring books have been everywhere and everyone has been talking about them. In 2015, about 12 million adult coloring books were sold in the US alone. Many entrepreneurs design their own coloring books by drawing the black and white art, print them, and sell them on Amazon or Etsy.
They are popular not only because of the nostalgia factor, but because they give stressed out adults (mainly millennials) a way to relax after a stressful day. The activity of coloring, getting lost in a soothing, repetitive, creative task, can be extremely mentally and emotionally therapeutic for many people.
Adult coloring books can even be good for physical ailments. Because of the way coloring benefits fine motor skills, people with limited mobility can strengthen the muscles in their arms and hands with coloring and find new strength. People use it as a tool against self harm, a way to fight depression or anxiety, and much more. There are even coloring book groups in libraries and cafes that bring people together to share their art and their stories.
Relaxing with coloring books can be compared to yoga or meditation in terms of its benefits. It can slow down the heart rate and respiration, stimulate the brain and relax tense muscles. It’s cheap, can be done almost anywhere, and you have a beautiful piece of art to show for your time. It can be done in groups or alone.
So next time you’re stressed out and want to go get a drink or spend money on a spa, try grabbing an adult coloring book and pack of crayons instead.
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