when i received the invitation for a wedding i recently attended, i noticed the colored flowers looked a little waxy. no way, i thought. so i texted the bride-to-be:
“Dude, did you HAND COLOR your wedding invitations? If so, it makes me want to get married just for that.”
she confirmed, said it was relaxing, and i thought nothing more of it.
until a month later, when a friend alerted me to the adult-coloring-as-meditation trend. i was intrigued, so she put me in touch with a friend of hers who began coloring occasionally last year. (while this friend of a friend graciously answered my questions and definitely exists, she’s unable to go on the record)
the woman tried coloring after reading online about its popularity among adults. at the time, she was plodding away on her dissertation and wanted a fun, creative outlet from rigid academic writing.
as-needed coloring was so effective that eventually a book and set of pencils became a “self-bribe” for completing a thesis chapter.
it also became a tool to combat her anxiety by redirecting her focus. the action provides an outlet for nervous energy with a clear, instant outcome. although it’s creative, the decisions are gentle and low-stakes, so you’re mostly out of your head. in fact, it's a rare chance to rely almost completely on elbow grease.
but i found her unexpected perk most appealing. sometimes when she’s anxious, she’ll remember pages she’s colored or the process of doing so and “somehow just imagining (coloring) can be as regulating and calming as the act itself.”
naturally, there’s controversy about whether coloring is truly a form of meditation or mindfulness. maybe it isn’t. but it’s certainly meditative. and as a devotee of the “whatever works” school of thought to reduce anxiety and stress, i’m not about to judge.
here are recommended books to get you started:
- Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book
- Enchanted Forest: An Inky Quest & Coloring Book both wildly popular (expect a wait on Amazon) and both by "Ink Evangelist" Johanna Basford.
- The Art of Nature by Adams Media, featuring vintage botanical and scientific prints
less serious suggestions:
- Unicorns Are Jerks: a coloring book exposing the cold, hard, sparkly truth by Theo Nicole Lorenz
- Coloring for Grown-Ups: The Adult Activity Book by Ryan Hunter and Taige Jensen, wherein "two veterans of offbeat Internet humor hilariously combine the mindless fun of children's coloring books with the mind-numbing realities of modern adult life."