Embrace Your Inner Child

Colored Pencils

embrace inner child headerWhen’s the last time you colored? Unless you’re an artist or designer of some kind, I imagine you haven’t sat down to “color” since childhood. Right? Well, that’s all about to change!

Color for your Health

Until recently, coloring was deemed a mindless children’s activity primarily designed to aid toddlers and elementary-age children in the development of fine motor skills. Throughout the last few years, however, employee self-care has become an increasingly relevant workplace concern. As a result, this practice has surged in popularity as a useful adult stress-relief tool.

In fact, adult coloring books have become so popular that they’ve been virtually flying off shelves at retailers across the country throughout the last few years. The trend first gained momentum between 2012 and 2013, but it was not until early 2016, when Crayola released its first adult book collection, Color Escapes, that the adult coloring phenomenon really captured the interest of mainstream consumers.

Research backs up the claim

As it turns out, this seemingly simple activity is so much more than meets the eye. Research suggests adults enjoy numerous benefits including: increased mindfulness, reduced stress, and an improved sense of focus.

Each day we experience anxiety and life-stressors that can negatively impact our ability to complete projects and tasks while continuing to perform at an optimal level. Unfortunately, the external pressures and internal fears associated with the development of stress are not always within our control. To help patients cope with life’s obstacles, Dr. Ben Michaelis, a nationally recognized clinical psychologist, recommends this activity to many of his adult clients. Michaelis and other mental health professionals believe that coloring is an “effective form of relief” for those combatting persistent stress (Let’s be honest: That’s all of us).

Michaelis purports, is not a goal-oriented activity; so we experience a reduction in stress when engaging in it. We will likely find that the practice is, in and of itself, its own reward. If only for a moment, we are allowed a brief respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life simply by getting lost in a coloring page.

Coloring helps to alleviate “free-floating anxiety

A 2005 study, conducted almost five years prior to the initial launch of adult coloring books, concluded that by creating mandalas, participants experienced a noticeable decrease in their level of anxiety. In another more recent study published in Psychological Science in 2012, researchers discovered a correlation between taking part in a “deliberately easy activity,”  had an increase in focus and better performance on tasks that followed.

These findings support the idea that engagement in artistic endeavors can reap therapeutic benefits. The American Art Therapy Association utilizes a combination of artwork and therapy with patients to “… explore feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, reduce anxiety and increase self-esteem.” Although an adult coloring book cannot be expected to provide all these benefits to the individual without also being supplemented by the relationship between a client and therapist, there is still significant “therapeutic potential” as a valid self-care tool.

All anxious and stressful thoughts are turned off, and the only thing you are focusing on is the present moment.

I can personally attest to the usefulness of coloring as an effective stress-relief and anxiety reduction strategy. As a busy college student balancing work, studying, extracurricular activities, and a social life, I sometimes need to remind myself to take a step back from it all. I first learned about the benefits of coloring after taking a psychology class called “Optimal Human Functioning”.

The professor, Dr. Paula Martasian, provided her students with strategies for developing greater resilience throughout the semester, coloring amongst them. Dr. Martasian even provided us with mandala coloring pages and pencils to use.  As experience has taught me, a simple task like coloring can truly rewire our brains for improved focus and better stress-management. It’s the kind of activity a person can easily adapt to suit almost any lifestyle.

For those who have yet to give it a chance, it’s worth a try! Talent Development has placed coloring pages around the buildings of our corporate location. we want to encourage Embrace professionals to consider implementing this fun self-care strategy into their daily lives.   Once employees have completed their drawing(s), we look forward to featuring them on official Embrace social media platforms. Stay tuned!

Where to purchase your adult coloring book:

Crayola’s Color Escapes Collection

Crayola’s unique adult coloring book collection features various coloring books featuring intricate patterns and detailed designs. The series focuses on fine details to engage the artist, so a selection of precision markers and colored pencils are also available for purchase.

Crayola’s Free Downloadable Coloring Pages

If you want to get started right away, you can also find a large selection of FREE adult coloring pages on Crayola’s website. Just hit “print”!

Other Options

For those interested in other more budget-friendly options, you can find a variety of book choices in-stock at local discount retailers, including: Five Below, TJ Maxx, and Marshall’s!

With the holiday season right around the corner  you might even consider purchasing adult coloring books for gifts! They make fantastic stocking stuffers!

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