Unwind, Unplug, and Color Your Stress Away
Originally posted on December 2, 2016 - price and availability of particular products mentioned in this post may have changed.
While the holiday season may be "the most wonderful time of the year" it can also be one of the most stressful, with parties to host, surprise guests to entertain, and the hectic hunt for the ever-elusive perfect present. This year, cross stress off the guest list with a surprisingly simple stress-relieving technique: coloring.
While coloring books for adults have exploded in popularity only recently, the use of coloring as a therapeutic activity goes back to the early 1900s. Psychologist Carl Jung had patients color mandalas as a way to get them to focus to allow the subconscious to let go.
According to modern-day expert Marygrace Berberian, a certified art therapist and the Clinical Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator for the Graduate Art Therapy Program at New York University, "Coloring definitely has therapeutic potential to reduce anxiety, create focus or bring [about] more mindfulness." The repetitive motions associated with coloring engage the cerebral cortex while soothing the amygdala, the part of the brain that controls emotion, giving your brain a chance to rest. Coloring also promotes mindfulness by keeping you engaged with the present rather than focusing on other thoughts.
The analog nature of coloring is also a great way to unplug, which has other stress-busting benefits. It's a relaxing alternative to staring at your phone (and the sleep-disrupting blue light it emits) right before bed, which could lead to less stress as a result of sleeping better.
To get the most stress-relief from coloring, experts recommend coloring in a quiet environment rather than while watching TV. It also helps to deliberately focus on the process and the physical sensations of coloring: the feel of the colored pencil on the paper and the sounds it makes as it moves across the page.
A unique way to harness the benefits of coloring while creating something you can use to decorate your home are AFW's coloring canvases. These canvases combine the same high-quality printing techniques used to produce our Artists of the West canvases with intricate, eye-catching designs that are just waiting for color. And the best part? While you color your stress away, you're also creating a one-of-a-kind piece of handmade home decor.