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Color Me Relaxed

In times like these, when current events play out like an episode of the “Twilight Zone,” adults are actively seeking new and improved ways to ease stress. In lieu of the traditional albeit borderline illicit vices of sex, drugs and alcohol, a seemingly tamer method to decompress is gaining popularity. Adult coloring books, once an unheard of phenomenon, are becoming increasingly popular in the mainstream as a means of entertainment and a way to let off steam.

“I color while watching intense sporting events,” said Susi Brown of Anderson, South Carolina, an avid ACC football fan. “My blood pressure can’t handle crazy, close games.”

According to Nikki Martinez, Psy.D., Brown is onto something. “Adult coloring stems all the way back to psychologist Carl Jung,” who used it in his practice as a means to help patients access their subconscious. Fast forward to modern times and indeed there are many mental health professionals who “prescribe” adult coloring to their patients as a means of relaxation and a calming tool.

Lori Arons Coocen of Peabody, Massachusetts, is also an avid adult colorist. “I’ve been coloring since before it became so popular. It’s my go-to for relaxation.”

There’s also an adult element to grown up coloring books that proves to be entertaining as well. “I bought (a book) called Calm the F___ Down, and it was cute and funny,” said Amanda Fiegle Lovlie, a flight attendant for a major U.S. airline.

In addition to being entertaining, coloring has intellectual benefits. The process of coloring utilizes areas of the brain that enhance focus and concentration and also solidifies organizational skills and problem solving. Another tangible benefit is that the process calms down the amygdala, which helps with PTSD, anxiety and stress.

As with most things in life, improvisation can work as well. Tabitha Smith of Charlotte, North Carolina, started off coloring thank you notes as a hobby. “I thought the books were ridiculous at first, but then I found they passed the time on long flights, at the hair salon and at doctor appointments,” she said. She’s been a fan of it for years as a result.

Adult coloring books are available at craft stores and book retailers nationwide, so this pastime is readily accessible to one and all. Go color!

—Tamar Douthit


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