Science has our backs once again. All of those hours we “wasted” on searching for the perfect coloring book has served a greater purpose. Even though you already knew that coloring is relaxing, would you feel better knowing that it has been scientifically proven to relieve stress?
Specifically, coloring inside the lines involves the use of our prefrontal cortex. Our prefrontal cortex allows us to make thousands of decisions per day, from deciding to put your hair up a certain way to deciding what you should wear to that interview on Monday. Coloring inside the lines is a decision process that involves coordinating colors, styles and shapes. It’s completely different from the creative thinking that goes along with drawing on a blank sheet of paper.
We spend the whole day making decisions — both conscious and unconscious ones. This induces decision fatigue. Decision fatigue makes us lash out at loved ones, buy a tub of cookie dough at the supermarket and cry over those infuriating shoelaces that keep coming undone. The mental exhaustion drives us to make poor decisions. We can combat decision fatigue through the choices we make while coloring to replenish our sense of self-control.
In addition to decision fatigue, there’s the paradox of paralyzation we feel from having too many choices. How much easier is it to order from Chipotle (a restaurant with limited options) than to order from Cheesecake Factory (a restaurant with pages of options)? Too many options can be overwhelming, and we’re sometimes left unsatisfied with the choices we make. That’s why coloring is more soothing than painting a blank canvas.
Coloring also helps us focus on the moment, the same way meditation does. The predictable result of coloring changes our heartbeat and brainwaves. The act of looking at shapes and sizes occupies the part of our brain that would normally give us anxious mental imagery. Any type of art therapy helps reduce stress-related hormones in our bodies. [insert coloring]
So, back to buying coloring books. Life is hard and we deserve to take a break to de-stress in a G-rated manner. Go ahead, pick up a coloring book, and take thirty minutes to regroup. Science is giving you permission.
For more information on the fascinating subject of art therapy and choices:
Photo Credits: marciabeckett.blogspot.com, howtodrawaneye.org