My new coloring books finally arrived! A few weeks ago...while wondering how on earth to acquire some fresh new designs without leaving the house or traveling too far...I came across bookoutlet.ca. This website is a goldmine...they sell 'brand name' coloring books worth $15-$25 or more...discounted to $2-5 because they are returns...factory mistakes...or are scratched...dented or ripped. But who really cares about all of that...when avid colorers like myself are probably just going to end up ripping out the pages and choosing our favorite ones anyway? The next best thing...would be printing out free coloring pages online...but printer ink and thick paper are way more expensive than just buying a book.
I have been known to take apart even the 'special' books that are meant to stay in order and tell a story...because trying to color around the binding and wrestling with a block of paper...is just stupid and makes the experience a lot less fun. I love the freedom to flip the page around in all directions..and honestly...it's a lot less stressful knowing these books don't cost a fortune and I can really go wild...take risks and experiment.
Most of them include dumb filler pages anyway...which makes paying a lot of money annoying and basically a huge rip off. What really sold me about bookoutlet.ca though...is their $5 flat rate shipping to Canada and the US for any order under $50. It can be frustrating to match free shipping limits...when you only want to spend $10 or $20...and nobody wants to pay for shipping that ends up costing more than the actual stuff you are ordering.
And also my new markers...that have no overpowering scent!
Color Me Mindful: Birds
Ocean Wonders: A Multi-Level Creative Coloring Book
Creativity: Coloring To Relax And Free Your Mind
Positively Zen: A Multi-Level Creative Coloring Book
Most of the people that I encounter totally scoff at the idea of an adult sitting down to color...and think it represents some kind of sad regression back into childhood. Either that...or they outright mock the term 'adult coloring' while the actual pages are...usually...not at all themed with adult content. To label a coloring page as 'adult' just means the pages are usually a lot more complex...detailed and more time consuming than the ones you would normally expect children to be interested in. I like to think that it all comes down to attention span...haha. But the themes are often more sophisticated too.
It's about time the perception of coloring being only a childhood activity...reaches an evolution. For years now...the media has enjoyed emphasizing the hype...and the retail world has been cashing in like mad on this 'fad'. Even though adult coloring has been made mainstream...these sources can still give the wrong impression about people who turn to coloring for a variety of different reasons. In general...I am never one to jump on the bandwagon purely for the sake of following the crowd...and basically make it my mission in life to run as far away from as many mindlessly popular things as possible. Even with intense dislike towards being a sheep...I still got hooked on this unassuming creative outlet.
Adult coloring has a lot more going for it...than first meets the eye! To start with...there are the well known benefits to mental health...like stress relief and relaxation. Anyone can access their inner artist and lose themselves in this healthy distraction from the daily pressures of life.
Since there are no rules...you can use your imagination and your own sense of color and design to escape into the page and express yourself however you want. While coping with anxiety and other mental health disorders...the repetitive nature of coloring and cognitive color therapy really does help to process any sort of difficulty in a very therapeutic way. There are even those who believe the act of coloring can help access your subconscious...kind of like the way you interpret your dreams. Our emotions and personality can be easily expressed through color choice.
Surprisingly...coloring is also considered a form of meditation...but not the kind where you must 'empty your mind'. When you meditate through concentrated creativity...your brain enters a very calm and relaxed state and by focusing on the present and blocking out nonstop and negative thinking...you are naturally attracting more positivity. Being able to switch off your brain from thoughts that cause distress...is a good technique to coping with modern life...but it also happens to be a good tool to prevent mental burnout. An hour spent coloring in the morning has the potential to emotionally prepare you for the stress of the day...or it can also be a great way to wind down at the end of a difficult day. Personally...I enjoy coloring at all hours...but find it especially soothing when unable to sleep.
Some additional health benefits to adult coloring include...increased hand eye coordination and cognitive improvements related to changes in brainwave patterns. Since this activity uses both the left and right side of the brain...it's particularly powerful in reinforcing problem solving...planning and motor skills in addition to the expected benefits to expanding your capacity to be creative. It really baffles me how we encourage the development of these skills in children...but suddenly outgrow the need to maintain them as adults! Since disorders of the central nervous system create a state of constant alertness...the most intriguing scientific research that I have seen...relates to calming down the fight or flight response.
The benefits of adult coloring are even greater for those who are terminally ill...live with crippling chronic pain and fibromyalgia...or face degenerative neurological disease.
When my pain gets really...really bad coloring always comes back into my life as a key pain management method. It helps for me to replace the source of anxiety with...and shift my focus from the pain onto something else. For anyone dealing with constant pain...depression...anxiety and the intrusive and troublesome thoughts that come with these conditions the psychological benefits of coloring are beyond wonderful. Concentrating on something other than the pain...and on the project at hand...helps a lot of sufferers hold onto a more optimistic outlook...and stay grounded before medical procedures and during recovery.
I have personally experienced countless mental and even physical improvements while using coloring pages as a method to cope with debilitating illness. I helps me to relax...pass time....and more or less empty my mind of the emotional aspect of dealing with pain...for at least a little while. The pain does not disappear...but it cannot define you in that moment. The most prominent change is on my focus and concentration...and coloring helps me to cut through some of the brain fog...memory problems and cognitive impairment. In regards to wellness and healing...most creative outlets that don't require strenuous activity levels have an outstanding recuperative effect!
Aside from that...I also believe there is a reason why so many adults are now revisiting an activity that for the most part...has only been associated with childhood. While it's not wrong to want to recapture emotions that remind us of simpler times...it also goes way beyond this. Joy and freedom of expression without boundaries should have no age limit! We have so many responsibilities as adults...I can't imagine why anyone might deny that tapping into our imaginations and taking a break from the worries of modern society is cathartic. In a lot of ways...we have been shaped and criticized as adults to grow up and lock important areas of our minds away...and in the process lose some of that boundless passion to explore and believe that anything is possible. When it comes to artistic endeavors...or just life in general...go wild and have fun! Forget about that deadline for a little while because life is too short to restrict yourself.
I get the most enjoyment out of using thin felt markers because they are easier to use...and don't require so much pressure on the fingers and wrist. I also don't have to worry too much about shading or blending colors together and can focus on other aspects of the design. I love having fresh designs to look forward to...because even if getting out of bed is made impossible one day...I can still look forward to coloring.
This gives me a much needed sense of accomplishment. More than ever right now...where feeling useless just worsens my depression. With digital art...rebooting my website and community account...and all of my major projects off the table for the foreseeable future...I can still do this. I can do something that makes me happy...lessens the pain...and fills my day with imagination and color. Transforming something blank into my vision is what motivates me...while waiting for brighter days.